A LEADING councillor is hoping work on Tavistock’s long-awaited new recycling centre could start in under two years.

County council chiefs had predicted that work on the Crowndale site, part of a series of centres planned across Devon, might not start for up to 15 years.

Devon County Council vice-chairman Debo Sellis, also the local representative for the town, said it could happen far sooner than originally thought.

Cllr Sellis warned that continuing uncertainties over financial pressures on the county council could yet delay the start of the Crowndale project.

But she said, after years of pushing for the new centre, it was hoped that work would start on the project in 2024.

She said the target was to get planning permission for the centre over the summer, with a ‘shovel ready’ scheme ready to go when funds were available.

Cllr Sellis voiced her hopes for the centre’s start date following a public exhibition held in Tavistock last Tuesday to allow residents to make their comments on the scheme.

The centre has become the object of frustration for residents from Tavistock and its surrounding areas, which intensified during the period following the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020.

Customers for the waste centre have always been vulnerable to traffic queues along the narrow access road leading to the facility while giant rubbish containers are switched for empty ones, a process which requires it to close down temporarily.

But that problem intensified when Covid restrictions were partially lifted and hordes of people who had been clearing out their rubbish descended on the centre at the same time.

That led to massive queues and a possibility of the county council bringing in security guards after centre staff were on the receiving end of verbal abuse.

Cllr Sellis said she had listened to residents’ concerns over the current centre for years - and that the feedback over the new project she received from people who attended the county council exhibition at Butchers Hall last week had been positive.

She said: ‘We had a good cross-section of the community there and in the main, people were enthusiastic about the new centre.

‘We aim to try and speed up (the building of the new centre) and we are looking to get planning permission sorted out during the summer.

‘Personally, I am hoping that work could start on it in 2024, but that really depends on a fluid financial situation. There are so many uncertainties, not just here, but globally. That could also include issues like obtaining the necessary materials to actually build it.

‘It’s difficult to say exactly, but it seems it could take a year to build the centre, which would mean the old one closing for just a fortnight.

‘I completely share the frustrations of residents over the current centre and I can say that our officers are also taking on board people’s comment about the access road.’

The proposed location for the new recycling centre is on brownfield land adjacent to the existing facility. The public consultation period on the new centre is running until April 10 and residents can comment at devon.gov.uk