Plans for 59 retirement apartments and an office block off Salterton Road in Exmouth have been unanimously panned by town councillors.
Civic leaders tonight (Monday) blasted proposals for the four-storey ‘extra care’ facility – exclusively for over-70s – earmarked for a plot next to Tesco.
They also branded the inclusion of a two-floor employment space a ‘token’ gesture.
“I propose refusal and I propose we always refuse this until something gets built on that site which gives young people a future in this town, not old people a place to go and die,” said Councillor Frank Cullis.
He added: “I don’t believe this development is in the interests of the people of Exmouth.”
Cllr Cullis questioned whether the ‘token’ office block would ever become a reality and expressed fears the ‘entire site will be lost and end up as residential’.
He added: “To help the future, this town needs jobs, it needs employment land, it doesn’t necessarily need more old people’s homes – plenty we’ve got already.”
The development would feature a total of 68 parking spaces and create 20 full-time jobs, according to the application.
Previous blueprints for just retirement apartments on the two-and-a-half-acre site were turned down by East Devon District Council (EDDC) in 2017 – with a subsequent appeal also rejected.
Cllr Brian Bailey said: “It’s only been 10 months since this was turned down at appeal.
“Nothing has changed in my view, the alleged industrial block around the back is just a sprat to catch a mackerel.
“If we lose this [site], there is nowhere for any significant employment land in Exmouth.
“I’m totally against it.”
Cllr Brian Toye said creating more homes for the ‘geriatric generation’ would ‘upset the balance of the population’ and asked: “Where are young people going to live?”
He added: “If we’re going to build any housing on that spot, it would be much better if we built low-rent housing for young people.
“They’re being squeezed out.”
Exmouth Town Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to oppose the plans.
Applicant YourLife Management Services Ltd – a joint-venture by McCarthy and Stone and Somerset Care – says the latest scheme is a result of feedback from EDDC.
The apartment complex of self-contained units – specifically designed for the elderly – would boast communal facilities such as a homeowners’ lounge, full table-service restaurant, wellness salon and guest suite.
An internal refuse room and a mobility scooter store are also included, as well as permanent day and night accommodation for staff.
It would feature 37 parking spaces – three of them for disabled motorists.
The office building – with a gross internal area of 645sq m over two floors – would have 31 parking spaces – five of them for vans.
Plans state the mooted ‘high-quality’ development is an ‘opportunity to enhance the character and appearance of this district of the town’.
The application adds: “The proposals will provide modern, desirable accommodation for retiring residents that would also provide uplift and regeneration to the locality.
“It will provide much-needed, privately-owned accommodation for people in later life in Exmouth.”
‘Extra care’ is described as ‘suitable for tenants with a heightened level of assisted care requirement’.
EDDC will decide the fate of the application.