AN appeal has been lodged against a rejected plan for a new shop and café on the A30 at Whiddon Down.
West Devon Borough councillors voted to refuse the application for the development of a shop, café and supporting secondary areas including storage, toilets, offices and kitchen space on land to the north of the A30 junction at Whiddon Down earlier this year — despite the council’s planning officers recommending it for approval.
Eight of the ten councillors on the development management and licensing committee voted to refuse the plan, which would be sited on agricultural land, highlighting that the proposal was for unrestricted retail use on a site in open countryside, unrelated to a settlement or existing horticultural or agricultural business. Councillors felt it had the ‘potential’ to harm existing villages by diversion of trade, might impact on the habitat of nearby nesting dormice, a protected species, and were unsure why a retail impact assessment had not been undertaken.
A number of councillors were not opposed to the idea of a rural development to support local sustainability but felt that the application was ‘very muddled’ and ‘vague’.
The applicant, Jack Mann, previously implied that the shop would aim to support many local producers, providing a ‘significant benefit’ to the local economy and could create a ‘gateway’ to West Devon.
About the appeal, Mr Mann said: ‘Naturally we were disappointed with the decision having put forward a well-considered proposal which represents a great opportunity for the area in terms of employment and economic stimulus during what are undoubtably challenging times.’
One of the stated reasons for the proposal’s refusal was because a retail impact assessment hadn’t been carried out. Mr Mann said he had been previously advised by West Devon planning officers that one wasn’t needed, but as a ‘demonstration of his belief’ in the project, an assessment had since been completed, the findings from which formed part of the appeal.
‘We felt we had done everything asked of us by the planning authority, which lead to two separate officer recommendations for approval so we feel we have a reason to appeal the decision of the planning committee,’ he said. ‘I firmly believe that the idea and the concept will do a huge amount of good for the local economy so I will stick to my convictions and see the project through.’
Comments on the appeal can be made until August 15 at acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk
A decision date has yet to be confirmed.
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