Developer may have to find alternative access to proposed Barnstaple housing estate

Concerns have been raised about plans for a new access road at Westacott in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy KeebleConcerns have been raised about plans for a new access road at Westacott in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble

Plans to build a new road through a Barnstaple play park appear to have hit a major hurdle.

Land owner North Devon Council has written to developers to say land at the Westacott Meadow play area is not for sale.

Instead, the council suggests that the preferred access route to the proposed 149-home development - the first phase of the so-called Westacott Urban Extension - should be via the A361 near Landkey.

The decision was made this week at an informal meeting of the council's executive.

A subsequent communication to developer Progress Land, understood to have been sent by the council's estate department, and seen by the Gazette, said: "At this time, the council does not have an appetite to dispose of or grant access over the playing field.

"While the council acknowledges that the secondary access across the playing field is within the emerging local plan, I have been advised that the council believes that an alternative access route should be considered in context of the wider development.

"The most appropriate primary access would be within the proximity of the Landkey junction.

"Another point which was raised is that to date no offers have been received to review or consider and at the moment we are just working on an assumption basis."

The news has come as welcome relief to local residents, who have campaigned hard to protect the park from development.

Many met at the park this morning (Friday) to celebrate the council's decision and discuss future plans for the area.

Emma Lerwill, chairman of the Residents of Westacott Road, said: "We want to thank the whole community; if they hadn't got behind us and fought for what they wanted and believed in then this wouldn't have been possible.

"So many people helped out with posters and leaflet drops - we can't thank them enough.

"Now we know the park is secure we want to start to use it as more of a community area and are planning some events.

"We hope to be able to bring in new play equipment and there is still a will to make this park a designated green space.

"If any residents would like to help us they can email keepwhiddonvalleysafe@gmail.com"

But plans for the new homes and access road could still be approved by the council at a meeting next month - although with no deal for the park on the table, the developer would have to find an alternative access point to the development.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Devon County Council dismissed concerns that the park access would have a 'severe' impact on the local highways network.

County council officers had recommended refusal of the original scheme but a revised plan was met with no objections by officers or councillors on the council's development management committee.

Progress Land has been contacted for comment.