PLANS to build up to 150 new homes in South Molton have been given a new lease of life. Work on the large-scale housing development at Gullacombe Valley looks set to get underway following the signing of a new land option agreement between land-owners and

PLANS to build up to 150 new homes in South Molton have been given a new lease of life.

Work on the large-scale housing development at Gullacombe Valley looks set to get underway following the signing of a new land option agreement between land-owners and property developers.

South Molton Town Council, which owns the majority of the 20-acre site on agricultural land to the north of the town, has agreed terms with developers Pearce Construction and Elan Homes.

The town council's land agent Jeremy Holtom said he expected that work on the new housing scheme, to the east of Parsonage Lane, would begin soon.

"I would expect that the companies involved will move fairly quickly to get work started there," he told the Gazette.

"Although planning permission has to be sought within 12 months of the agreement, it should be a formality as the scheme has already gone through a pretty thorough planning process.

"North Devon Council adopted a planning brief for the site in April 2008 and planning consent should be granted providing the developers follow everything in the adopted brief."

Initial plans for the site stalled in 2008 when prospective developers David McLean Homes went into administration as a result of the crash in the housing market. The firm has since been bought by Elan Homes, a new company formed by former senior management at David McLean.

Mr Holtom, of Landsense Professional, said the new option agreement was a "renewal and revision" of a previous agreement signed with the same parties "several years ago".

"It has enormous potential benefits for South Molton as under the terms of the development brief, developers are required to assist with the extension of the community woodland," he said.

"There is also the possibility that the scheme could provide the town with new allotments, which are very much in demand."

At least 35 per cent of homes must be affordable. Other conditions contained in the brief include the provision of a new link road from North Road, access from Station Road, and direct pedestrian and cycle links to the community woodland, town centre and Pathfields Business Park.