Councillors seek further clarity on proposed highway works and expressed concerns about cumulative impact on the area
NORTH Devon councillors have deferred a decision on 115 new homes on the outskirts of Barnstaple this morning (Wednesday).
The outline proposals for Northfield Lane, Pilton, were being recommended for approval by planning officers but councillors felt they needed more information about proposed highway works, which could see a roundabout built at the hospital junction, and also expressed concerns about the cumulative impact the development might have.
Planners were worried that this site, along with several others being discussed for the Pilton area, could have a ‘serious impact’ on traffic levels – particularly for the area’s abundance of emergency services.
Last month, the council approved plans for plans for 80 new homes on a green field site across the road at Trayne Farm, next to North Devon District Hospital.
A further planning consent for 101 new homes on the hospital site itself – as well as a staff campus of 112 apartments and 18 homes – was granted in 2012.
Plans for 43 new homes at neighbouring Westaway Plain are still being considered by the council.
The district council’s emerging local plan has also set aside an area to the south of the hospital for development – which could see up to 200 more homes built.
A number of local residents spoke to oppose the Northfield Lane plans, which were rejected by Barnstaple Town Council, to outline fears about traffic congestion and the separation distance to existing houses at Lynbro Road - fears shared by the district council’s planning committee.
Councillor David Worden pointed to the impact that the added volume of traffic as a result of development could have on the emergency services, as ambulances, fire engines and police cars are all stationed in the Pilton area.
District planning officers said that although the development would result in the loss of ‘good agricultural land’, it would deliver much-needed open market and affordable housing.
“This is another difficult one for us to decide,” said Cllr Joe Tucker. “I agree with some of the people making recommendations today but I would be struggling to think of something to say to get this application refused and I don’t want to leave this council open to thousands and thousands of pounds of costs (if the decision was overturned at appeal) which would go back on the tax payer.
“I would move deferment because Devon County Council is asking for £25,000 for road improvements, but there are no detailed plans for how that would be used yet.”
Around 30 of the houses would also be built outside of the emerging development boundary, another point which was deemed ‘unnecessary’ by councillors.
Councillor Glynn Lane added that the density of the proposed housing development, at 40 per hectare, would be too high, given that the density was less than half that in the surrounding area.