Campaigners are urging Torridge District Council not to ‘rip the heart of the village’ by building houses on Westward Ho! park.

It comes after Atlantic Racquet Centre lodged plans earlier this month to build 10 new houses on the park off Avon Lane.

The proposals would see the former Happy Cafe demolished, and the new homes, tennis courts, community building and play area constructed.

But residents have urged TDC not to sell the land, handing a petition with some 4,000 signatures requesting the land be transferred to Northam Town Council.

It is understood the petition will be debated by the council, but a date for this is yet to be set.

Park User Amanda Holder and her Disability Assistance Dog - Minnie. Picture: contributedPark User Amanda Holder and her Disability Assistance Dog - Minnie. Picture: contributed

Phil Hodson, petition organiser and campaigner, said: “As the loss of a central green space, these plans threaten to rip the community heart out of our village.

“The park has been in existence for 80 or more years and is cherished as a place for families, both residents and visitors, to relax and play in a safe environment, walk the dog, or make free use of the public tennis courts.

“It’s not just the long term, but as the planning application calls for the complete demolition and remodelling of existing facilities plus new house building it is likely that the park will be out of bounds to the community for years to come.

“Although we understand that the planning application will not proceed until after the debate is held, it is frustrating that we have not yet had a proper opportunity to argue our case.

“There has been an indication that this could be later in September and it must be in the interests of Torridge District Council, Northam Council, and residents to organise the debate as soon as possible so we can all move forward.”

Campaigners are urging people to register their views on the Torridge District Council website or by writing to the council, quoting planning application number 1/0736/2018/FULM.

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