Torridge District Councillors have refused plans for 200 new houses - despite officers recommending Heywood Road plans for approval.

Councillors have voted to refuse plans to build 200 new houses off Heywood Road in Northam today (Thursday) – despite officers recommending approval.

Torridge District Council’s plans committee spent more than three hours discussing the outline application which included open space and care facilities.

Concerns over the access to the site, the impact on traffic, possible flooding and the loss of ‘open countryside’ were all brought up in the debate.

Cllr Philip Hackett, who supported the refusal of the proposals, said the land was ‘the punctuation between Northam and Bideford’.

He added: “It is the green lungs between the two towns.”

Cllr Peter Watson said he was worried about the difficulty accessing the site, as during a site visit it took councillors five minutes to exit the junction.

He said: “I am not convinced this will be successful. It is a major problem and if we don’t get this bit right, the rest of it is rubbish.”

Five of the seven councillors agreed to support the refusal due to the loss of landscape and the adverse affects of the development outweighing any benefit.

Planning officers seemed dubious about the reasons for refusal, suggesting the council might struggle to defend them should the applicant appeal the decision.

But the decision was met with much applause from around 60 people who had packed into Bideford Town Hall to hear the application.

Cllr Brown added: “We have a responsibility to our communities, we have given this a thorough debate and I think this is the right thing to do.”