Plans to build 180 homes on the outskirts of Great Torrington have been granted on appeal.

The application from Beechcroft Land proposes 181 homes on land off Caddywell Lane and Burwood Lane, in three fields to the south of the town.

It was refused by Torridge District Council in August 2019, which said the proposals were unjustified development within the countryside, with insufficient provision for contributions to housing, education, transport and open space.

An inquiry was held in January, where a S106 obligation was submitted addressing the issue of contributions.

Inspector Harold Stephens found that while the development was outside of the North Devon and Torridge Local Plan, Torridge District Council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

His judgement said the appeal proposal met all the requirements of the local plan’s policy in terms of suitability of the site and its ability to meet shortfalls in housing delivery, and would provide much needed market and affordable housing.

He said: “Any harm which might be identified as arising from the appeal proposals comes nowhere near significantly and demonstrably outweighing the many and varied benefits of the appeal proposals.”

In his conclusion he said: “Having considered these and all other matters raised I find nothing of sufficient materiality to lead me to a different conclusion. The appeal is therefore allowed.”

Torridge District Council Torrington ward member Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin, said she was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the decision.

She added: “It’s a completely irresponsible decision from the government planning inspector. The application doesn’t adhere to the local plan, and on top of a number of serious concerns, including sewage, impact on landscape and lack of infrastructure, there will be a real issue of road safety with large numbers of traffic driving past the junior school.”

Penny Mills, Campaign to Protect Rural England Devon’s director, said the decision made a mockery of the adopted local plan.

She said: “This is an extremely disappointing decision which flies in the face of the strong and valid objections put forward by local people and by us, and makes a mockery of the Local Plan that has been adopted.

“From CPRE Devon’s perspective, the rush for new housebuilding based on questionable figures now seems to override all other considerations. What happened to local people and local authorities having a say in how their communities are shaped? The government makes big promises, but the reality is very different.”

The development is set to feature a mixture of two, three and four bedroom properties.

The application was resubmitted in 2019 after Torridge District Council refused an initial application for 181 homes in June 2018.