RESIDENTS have spoken out against a proposal by a landowner to ‘cram more houses’ onto the last green pocket of land between housing estates on the east side of Okehampton.
Leander Developments wants to use the plot of 60 houses instead of the previously agreed 43 bungalows on the pocket of land off Radford Way.
Residents of Radford Way told Okehampton Town Council’s planning committee on Monday that the plan would ruin their privacy.
Robert Hines, who lives in a bungalow on Radford Way, said: ‘It would be overpowering from our point of view because they would be looking into our bedrooms and gardens. It is causing us a lot of stress.’
This last remaining piece of land to be developed between Exeter Road and Crediton Road had originally been earmarked for the second primary school.
Mr Hines, who came along to the meeting on Monday night with other owners of the recently built bungalows on Radford Way, said: ‘When we purchased our bungalow along with all the elderly residents we understood the field would be developed, originally it was for a school and in the last application it was for bungalows. The bungalows would have been at the foot of our garden and that wouldn’t have been a huge problem, we would be quite happy with that, but I looked at the plans before coming down here, and they are talking about one, two, three or four bedroom houses right at the bottom of our gardens.’
Nigel Mortimer and his wife Sue live in Baldwin Drive, right beside the proposed development.
He said they had already been concerned with loss of privacy, and that pre-existing problems with anti-social behaviour, with youths ‘smashing up the gardens’, getting worse. ‘I had it happen to me,’ he said. ‘I was being attacked by hoodies, eight of them in the dark, and waiting for the police to arrive. and it is an elderly area. I want to know if there is going to be any consideration for the residents.’
He added: ‘It is basically about money, cram as many houses in as you can. The problem with that is it affects the character of Okehampton.’
The application, 4440/22/OPA, was being discussed by Okehampton Town Council, which is being asked its opinion although the application itself will be decided by West Devon Borough Council.The town council decided it would object to the proposal, on the number of houses (density), loss of privacy, its likelihood to increase fear of crime and access, the fact that it does nothing to resolve linking up Baldwin Way to Crediton Road – the ‘Berlin Wall’ stalemate which has existed since action stalled on developing this pocket of land.
Sixty houses would generate a great deal more traffic than the 43 bungalows originally proposed, councillors were concerned
Cllr Caleb Botton said: ‘Potentially that is 150 cars every day, the impact for local residents, for children and the possibility of car accidents is a little bit scary. Also the people here today have great concerns about their quality of life. For older people, every day is precious so having every day living in a building site is not a good thing. And where is the infrastructure? In my opinion it is ill-thought out.’
Cllr Jan Goffey pointed out that Leander Developments owned the site but was not intending to develop it. They had resubmitted the application for more houses because it had not managed to find a developer to take it on and build the bungalows.
She suggested that the application site should instead be sold on as separate plots, for self-build projects and modular homes, as now being pioneered elsewhere as a way to resolving the housing crisis.
‘Originally this was for about 43 bungalows and the increase is over development. We can object on density grounds; to go from 43 dwellings to 60 is a substantial increase. The fact that they were originally bungalows backing onto bungalows, to make them two storey houses now would be intrusive.’