Plans to expand Dart Business Park in East Devon have narrowly been given the go-ahead.
Proposals for the site opposite Darts Farm in Clyst St George aim to create six new units to be used for offices, light industry and storage and distribution.
The scheme promises to create between 20 and 25 jobs.
East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Development Management Committee granted the bid planning permission today (Monday) by eight votes to six.
The meeting heard that, while the site was not allocated for further development in either the Local Plan or the Clyst St George Neighbourhood Plan, the economic benefits to the local and wider community weighed heavily in its favour.
Previous proposals for 10 units – that would have created 40-50 jobs – were rejected in April last year.
Speaking on behalf of the applicant, John Milverton told the committee the project would deliver ‘a long list of benefits’, adding: “My client has a three-year waiting list for tenants.
“There is a job shortfall and a shortage of business units, so the solution is pretty clear.”
Councillor Helen Parr threw her support behind the scheme and recommended it be approved.
She said: “There is extremely strong comments from the economic development officer about this and we must have more small units for people to work.
“This is a very good application and I have no hesitation in supporting this.”
Cllr Tom Wright added: “This is already in an industrial area, so it seems a logical place to provide units. We should encourage this and be thankful for those people bringing forward facilities in the area.”
EDDC’s economic officer told the meeting: “I admit to being at a loss as to how, in the face of such compelling specific evidence of economic need, benefit and even loss through planning delay, it has not been possible to make a determination that these outweigh the loss of trees.”
The site forms part of a woodland plantation, some of which will need to be removed to accommodate the development, but Mr Milverton said that 97 per cent of the trees would remain and would be better-managed if the scheme went ahead.
Cllr Paul Arnott said: “While I am sympathetic to the need of the economic argument for units in the area, the fact is it is trumped by this not being part of the Local Plan or the Neighbourhood Plan.
“I am sympathetic to what they want to do, but it may have to come back when we have revisited our Local Plan. With regret, I cannot support this.”
Granting the bid approval, the committee rule the revised proposals addressed concerns raised from the previous application and that the economic benefits, creation of jobs and employment opportunities outweigh any limited harm arising.
EDDC officers had recommended the plans for approval and told members in a report: “Overall, it is considered the revised proposals address concerns raised by the previous application and that the economic benefits arising from the proposed development, with the creation of additional new jobs and employment opportunities, outweigh any limited harm arising from the proposal.”