Plans to redevelop a former munitions factory and ammunition dump site on the edge of Bideford into nearly 100 new homes have narrowly been approved.
Torridge District Council’s plans committee voted by five votes to four to grant outline permission for the scheme at Nuttaberry when it met on Thursday, September 3.
The long-standing application was submitted more than 10 years ago in January 2009.
Recommending approval, officers said the residential redevelopment of the former commercial brownfield site for up to 96 residential units including affordable homes, was acceptable.
A report to the committee said: “At this outline stage, the proposed development is considered to be in keeping with the character of the surrounding area and would not result in an adverse impact on protected species or the amenities of neighbouring occupiers, subject to conditions as identified above.
“The proposed development is considered to provide a safe and secure access and adequate provision for open space and surface water drainage, subject to the relevant conditions and Section 106 agreement.
“The proposed development, subject to the proposed works to the access and Torrington Street and the conditions recommended, is considered to provide a safe and well designed vehicular access and egress. The proposed development is not considered by the highway authority to result in an adverse impact on the surrounding highway network and the proposed highway works would meet road safety requirements.”
Cllr Peter Christie said the site was the last large area of undeveloped flat land in the area, raising the question as to why it had not been already developed.
He added: “The report refers to contamination on the site. Its early use was as a munitions factory creating explosives, and it was used in World War Two as an ammunition dump by the US Army so there will be more contamination from that.
“There is a very low percentage of affordable homes proposed and I suspect the clean-up will reduce that even further.
“The problem is that whichever way you enter the site, the access is appalling. The officers say there will be improvements, but anyone driving down Torrington Street will realise how narrow it is and there is no way to improve it.”
Cllr Chris Leather, chairman of the committee, said putting that amount of traffic through Torrington Street was ridiculous, while Cllr Ruth Craigie said that while the site would be fine for development, there was the question of getting in and out of site.
She added: “This needs another access point. As it is, it is a disaster. This just doesn’t work.”
But Cllr Dermot McGeough, proposing that the scheme be approved, said that the highways officers had alleviated some of his concerns.
Councillors voted by five votes to four in favour of granting the outline application. A further reserved matters application, which would cover the detail, scale, design and layout of the scheme, will need to come forward at a later date.