A LEADING councillor has told planning chiefs that he does not want Tavistock to become a domitory town amid an ongoing wrangle over a scheme to build new homes on a controversial site.

Tavistock Town Council planning chairman Paul Ward made his comments as the Development Management and Licensing Committee were considering the latest attempt by Baker Estates to develop a site in Plymouth Road.

The town council gave the original scheme, which involved building a large care home and 45 homes on the site, a definite thumbs down months ago when the project was first put forward. Then they responded favourably when the Newton Abbot-based developers put forward a second scheme which kept the houses, dispensed with the care home and added employment land instead, but recorded their dismay when the application with the care home was not withdrawn at the same time. Now both applications have been resubmitted, each with the loss of one home, dropped because of concerns it would be affected by tree roots. Both applications are due to go before planning authority West Devon Borough Council for a decision in the near future. Before that happens, town councillors are allowed to make comments on the plans and committee members made it clear they did not think either would benefit Tavistock.

Cllr Ward voiced his concerns about the lack of employment land in Tavistock and rubbished previously-made suggestions that residents could commute to work-places which did, such as Okehampton, Ivybridge and Totnes, while other councillors were sceptical about the lack of affordable housing for local people. The committee chairman, who said he believed the schemes were not compatible with the Joint Local Plan, which governs what development goes where, added that parishioners had questioned him over where people were going to work.

He said: ’The last thing I want to see is a domitory town, where people sleep here and go elsewhere to work. Once employment land is gone, it’s gone and we’re not just talking about now. It’s about future years and providing needs for local people.’

Vice chairman James Ellis said he was concerned about the lack of affordable housing and added that he had checked the prices of the proposed homes and discovered that the cheapest was £325,000, with others costing more than £500,000.

Cllr Ellis said: ’You have people who have grown up in Tavistock who could not afford even the cheapest of these houses. It isn’t going to be housing for the needs of Tavistock. It’s going to be very expensive and exclusive housing. I can’t support an application for housing that will not provide affordable housing for local people.’

And Cllr Alick Venning warned of a scenario where the traditional centre of Tavistock was surrounded by new homes ’that nobody would want anyway’.

Councillors unanimously voted to recommend refusal for both applications when they go before the borough council for determination.