CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight a fresh attempt by a housing developer to build on farmland on the outskirts of North Tawton.
Wainhomes (South West) Holdings Ltd has applied to West Devon Borough Council to build 65 homes as an extension to the Batheway Fields estate.
Earlier this year, the borough council refused to grant Wainhomes permission to build 100 homes on the same site, an appeal which is due to be heard before a planning inspector at a public inquiry on July 10.
The plan was also objected to by North Tawton Town Council, who argued that the town could not cope with more new housing and did not have the amenities to support it.
Now the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is warning that the developer is confident about West Devon councillors agreeing to its new proposal – provided it drops the appeal on the original application, which the cash-strapped borough council will have to pay to fight.
Emery Planning, planning consultants for Wainhomes, said in support of the application: ‘This application has been made allowing discussions between Wainhomes and the council’s officers. If this application is approved it would be Wainhomes’ intention to withdraw the appeal, as agreed by the council.’
Penny Mills, director of CPRE Devon said: ‘Wainhomes seems determined to build a significant number of new homes on this piece of open farmland on the edge of North Tawton. Earlier this year, we were pleased to help the town council lodge its objections to such a development.
‘These included the fact that Wainhomes had not justified the need to build on prime farmland nor had it adequately involved and engaged the local community in the design process.’
‘The number of proposed homes has been slightly scaled down in this new application, but the same objections remain.’
The decision on whether to allow the application rests with West Devon Borough Council, and will be discussed at a forthcoming development control committee meeting.
Campaigners fear, however, that the borough council will feel obliged to pass the application, because it cannot demonstrate a ‘five-year land supply’ to meet a quota of new houses the government is calling to be built each year.
It recently lost an appeal over plans for 22 houses in the village of Crapstone for this reason.
The borough council has set out plans for housing development for the decades ahead in a Joint Local Plan with Plymouth City Council and South Hams District Council, but these are currently being examined by a planning inspector and are not yet official.
Steve Whiteley, chairman of North Tawton Town Council, said: ‘The trouble is that the Government is trying to get people to built houses, and West Devon have got to be pretty confident that they can win an appeal.
’It is all a case of money – developers have got a lot more than borough councils have.’
The controversy follows that in Okehampton where WDBC recently allowed an application to build 50 houses on a greenfield site south of Exeter Road which the community said they did not want built on.
The borough council had previously refused an application to build houses on the site, but apparently did not feel confident about fighting an appeal after the Crapstone decision.
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