Two applications for a total of more than 100 homes in Bickington fail to gain district council approval

NORTH Devon Council’s planning committee debated two applications on Wednesday which could have seen more than 100 houses built in Bickington – but failed to approve either of them.

The first application, a two-stage, 65 house plan for land off North Lane, was deferred, while another submission for 59 homes at Mead Park was refused.

The North Lane application would have seen 15 houses built initially, with another 50 to follow after improvements to local parking and highways.

But concerns were aired that only 15 per cent of the phase two houses would be affordable – a long way short of the district council’s benchmark figure of 35 per cent.

Planners said this was mitigated by community improvements.

Ward member Councillor Rodney Cann spoke strongly against the plans.

“You cannot be serious,” he said. “It will affect the character of the village. Developers are twisting our arm time and again.

“I think we are being conned here and I would ask you to consider it very carefully.”

Cllr Glyn Lane called for an independent viability assessment, to check that the application ‘stacked up’.

Members then voted to refuse a second application in the Bickington area, at Mead Park, which councillors felt would encroach on the ‘green wedge’ which separates Bickington from Fremington.

Several residents spoke against the plans, and Cllr Cann again spoke, saying: “As things are going, there will be one vast urban sprawl.

“This is opportunistic development and would stick out like a boil on the bottom in Bickington.”

Cllr Lane moved approval, feeling that too much weight was being given to a clause in the council’s emerging local plan, but there was no seconder.

Members voted nine against one to refuse.