Developers reveal plans for marine energy park and 250 homes at 80-acre riverside brownfield site.

People have been reacting to plans to redevelop the former power station in Yelland.

Proposals for a ‘marine related’ energy park and up to 250 homes have met with a mixed response by those attending a public consultation at the site today (Wednesday).

Developers say the 90-acre site, the ‘largest brownfield development site in North Devon’, could also house a maritime employment campus and create more than 500 jobs.

Work would involve raising the ground level by two metres, restoring the jetty, enhancing access to the Tarka Trail and providing a ‘social hub’, with improved vehicle, a car park, café and cycle hire services.

The proposals include plans to regenerate the former ash beds for use as a nature reserve.

“It’s key for people to see this in terms of the regeneration,” said Matt Steart of Woodward Smith Architects.

“It’s the largest brownfield site in North Devon. We have an opportunity to create something iconic, a development with a key marine-related employment hub, complimented by residential development which further enhances the former ash bed site.”

The ash beds themselves will remain undeveloped and he added: “We just simply want open it up as a nature reserve, allow dog walkers back on to the land and use it in the public realm.”

He said they were seeking to submit a planning application by the end of June but did not expect a decision until the end of the year. If approved, remediation work on site could take up to two years before building can begin.

‘A strain on infrastructure’

But some, including Devon County Council for Fremington Rural, Frank Biederman, have questioned the area’s suitability for new homes.

“We all want to see something happen down there because it’s blot on the landscape,” he told the Gazette.

“It will create much-needed jobs but the problem is that they are proposing 250 houses down there which will clearly put a strain on infrastructure and the B3233.

“It’s very disappointing; I understand the argument that the development needs to be economically viable to make it work but the area just can’t cope with that amount of houses.

“According to the local plan, the land is designated as commercial/industrial use only and that was what I was hoping to go along and see today.

“I will be pushing for the proposal to come before the county’s development management control committee to decide whether the infrastructure is there to support that number of houses – I believe that it isn’t.”

Residents give their opinions

Fremington resident Roger Gardener said he did not object to the development in principle, but was concerned the height of the development would make it visible for miles around.

Bob Kirby, from East-the-Water, who is part of the Devonshire Association’s botany section, added: “I have concerns about the numbers of people they are going to be moving in to the area, the impact that will have in an area that at the moment enjoys a much lower impact from the public.

“I was pleased they are going to leave an area free, provided the management of it is consistent with being a wildlife area.”

* Anyone interested in finding out more can visit the consultation, which runs until 7pm today.

Check back for more reaction and pictures of the development site as we have it.