Government planning inspectors have overturned the district council’s refusal of 50 homes, a ruling that could open the door more homes on ‘greenfield’ sites around Exmouth.

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In August, East Devon District Council (EDDC) said that the proposal, in Feniton, would see homes built in the open countryside not allocated for house building.

Wainhomes (South West) appealed and the inspector upheld the appeal.

The decision has far-reaching implications for the whole district, including Exmouth.

The finishing touches are being made to the East Devon Local Plan.

The plan – a blueprint for how many homes should be built and where, up to 2026 – is at its final consultation stage and currently has 840 new homes planned for the town.

But now the government inspector has given the green light to the homes in an area not included in the local plan.

Wainhomes argued that EDDC did not have enough suitable land allocated for the numbers of new homes needed over the next five years, so some new developments were needed.

Despite Cranbrook, the council was unable to convince the inspector that enough houses could be built quickly enough to satisfy the urgent need in East Devon.

District planning chiefs will review their planning policy.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, EDDC’s cabinet member for strategic development, said: “This is most certainly a setback for us in terms of our desire to protect the environment and see new homes built in a controlled manner.

“We are well aware that new homes, especially affordable housing, need to be built and we are making ongoing efforts to convince some of our residents that saying no to new development is not an option.

“Blanket or widespread refusal only makes the council vulnerable to losing appeals, as in this case, or to receiving more applications for sites that we deem unsuitable.

“When we grant permission we are sometimes accused of not listening to towns and parishes.

“What people need to understand is that we can only refuse permission if there are sound planning reasons that we can defend. This case demonstrates just how thin that line can sometimes be.”

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