Decision-day looms for controversial plans for 150 homes and new school in Ottery St Mary

The fate of controversial plans for 150 homes and a new primary school in Ottery St Mary is set to be decided on Wednesday, January 6.

Blueprints for land at Thorne Farm, off Exeter Road, have been recommended for approval before they are considered by East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Planning Committee.

Proposals would see flood-hit Tipton St John Primary School relocated from its village setting to the site on the town’s outskirts.

The outline application from Devon County Council (DCC) is for a 210-place new school on the western part of the plot, which lies opposite Barrack Farm.

Up to 150 dwellings – 30 per cent of them ‘affordable’ – would be built across the rest of the 25-acre site.

A new roundabout and access point on Exeter Road and a through-road junction onto Cadhay Lane are also proposed.

The mooted development has garnered 132 objections and 17 representations of support.

Ottery Town Council has ‘vigorously’ opposed the scheme.

But EDDC officers say it should be given the go-ahead is its ‘overriding benefits’ outweigh concerns.

Plans for homes and a new primary school in Ottery St Mary. Images from the planning application: Devon County Council/NPS Group

Plans for homes and a new primary school in Ottery St Mary. Images from the planning application: Devon County Council/NPS Group

The development site at Thorne Farm in Ottery sT Mary. Images from the planning application: Devon County Council/NPS Group

The development site at Thorne Farm in Ottery sT Mary. Images from the planning application: Devon County Council/NPS Group

Plans for homes and a new primary school in Ottery St Mary. Images from the planning application: Devon County Council/NPS Group

In red, the site earmarked for homes and a new primary school in Ottery St Mary. Images from the planning application: Devon County Council/NPS Group

A report to the Planning Committee says around £5.2million of funding needs to be found by DCC for the new school.

The authority, which owns the application site, would net all but £600,000 of its target through the scheme for 150 homes.

Other funding would then be used to make up the deficit.

Part of the development site lies within an area allocated for community and educational use in EDDC’s Local Plan.

However, the proposals are said to ‘depart substantially’ from this due to this area being earmarked for homes.

The school is proposed for a plot to the west.

Recommending approval, with conditions, an EDDC offer says in a report Planning Committee members: “The impacts on the local highway network, trees, local landscape, the setting of heritage assets, flooding and wildlife have all been addressed.

“The provision of housing on agricultural land outside of a BUAB [built-up area boundary], below policy level of affordable housing, and the visibility of the site from various viewpoints within the town and local area all weigh against the proposal.

“However, the overriding benefits of the proposal through providing a new primary school to replace an existing school which is required due to identified dangers from flooding, control of the impact from the housing at the reserved matters stage, together with provision of affordable housing within the town and the construction of a new roundabout which would improve highway safety are considered to outweigh the dis-benefits of the scheme.

“Accordingly, on balance, it is considered that the proposal is acceptable subject to the package of measures proposed in the application to mitigate any harm, secure affordable housing, including an overage clause, and habitat mitigation through a legal agreement and appropriately worded safeguarding conditions.”

EDDC’s Planning Committee will consider the officer’s recommendation when it meets virtually at 10am on Wednesday, January 6.

£7.2million new primary school and 150 homes proposal for Ottery St Mary is unveiled

About Author