New and affordable homes are agreed for a village near Ottery amid objections to block the plans

New homes agreed for a village near Ottery St Mary has prompted opposition from some residents despite half being turned over as affordable properties.  

A bid by West Hill’s residents to block 30 new homes being built has failed after planners approved the proposals, writes local democracy reporter Bradley Gerrard.

The village near Ottery St Mary witnessed an outpouring of opposition to the Blue Cedar Homes scheme because of the potential impact on the local environment and stretched public services,

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) planning committee this week heard that West Hill Parish Council feared the pressure the scheme’s additional residents would put on local schools, GP surgeries and other services.

“We ask where will the children go to school given that West Hill Primary School and King’s School [in Ottery St Mary]are oversubscribed, where will householders access healthcare as GP services in Ottery are overstretched, and dentists in both West Hill and Ottery are not taking new patients,” a statement from the parish said

“Where will householders work as there are no employment opportunities in the village, and where will the children play and enjoy sport given the serious lack of public open space for recreation in West Hill?”

The parish added that the open space proposed as part of the application, which is split over two plots near Eastfield and would feature 50 per cent affordable homes, would not be adequate to address the shortage of space for children in the village to play.

Marion Tate, a resident of Eastfield Gardens, which will neighbour the development, told the East Devon planning meeting she supported the raft of objections made by fellow residents.

“I have major concerns over the disruption that would be caused during construction, parking will be a huge issue with heavy vehicles and all the tradespeople, materials and contractors necessary for the build,” she said.

“Two points of access to the eastern plot will not be able to cope, these roads have no pavements and the disruption will affect the residents at Hawthorne Close and Eastfield Gardens.”

Ms Tate’s comments came on top of objections from 35 residents who attended a West Hill Parish Council meeting earlier in the year to speak against the application.

Councillors there called the public turnout at one of their meetings “unusual” and suggested it “demonstrated the importance of the issue to residents”.

Councillor Jess Bailey (Ind, West Hill & Aylesbeare) questioned how sustainable the site was in terms of its links to public transport, and said future occupants would be “heavily car dependent”.

She cited a 2011 report that questioned how potential residents on a site in the same location as the Blue Cedar scheme could use or access sustainable means of transport.

“The inspector stated that other than the shop and the primary school, there were few other facilities within convenient walking distance,” she said.

“And with the closest bus stop roughly 1.5km away, this will discourage bus use, while the frequency and timings of services to Exeter and Honiton are such that it is unlikely to be an attractive option for many people.

“I believe it’s wrong that a site that was deemed unsustainable in 2011 is now deemed sustainable.”

Des Dunlop of D2 Planning, the developer’s agent, said it was “worth noting that this site has been identified for residential development in the emerging draft local plan.”

“The applicant has worked diligently with officers and statutory consultees prior to submission and during its determination, and the detailed assessment of the proposal by officers shows no objections from statutory consultees in regards to highways, flooding, landscape, ecology or impact on local services,” he said.

Mr Dunlop added that while some residents had expressed concerns about increased flooding risks in the area due to the development, he said the drainage system that would be put in place would mean water run-off rates would be lower than if the site remained undeveloped.

Following its debate, the planning committee opted to approve the scheme, but with conditions including for a footpath to be built connecting to adjacent land that could be developed in the future.

Mr Dunlop queried this stipulation, claiming it was pre-empting a decision on another site that had not yet appeared before the planning committee, but said his client “had no objection in principle” to providing the requested footpath.

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