Votes against flats sees councillor quit committee

PUBLISHED: 09:27 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 09:27 29 January 2016

Archant

Proposals to demolish two bungalows and replace them with 14 apartments have been opposed by town planners.

A planning application for the scheme, which concerns numbers 22 and 24 Albion Hill, was considered by Exmouth Town Council’s planning committee at its meeting this week.

The public gallery was packed with residents concerned about the plan. The committee eventually voted to oppose it.

This did not go down well with Councillor Bill Nash, who voted to support the scheme, and at the end of the meeting he resigned from the committee, saying he was ‘appalled’ by what had transpired. Outlining some of the residents’ concerns, Albion Hill resident Chris Adams said: “Our main concerns are this is overdevelopment and inappropriate.

“Cramming 14 flats into the space amounts to speculative overdevelopment of the site. It is out of proportion to the surrounding properties and, given the position on top of a slope, overbearing.”

Residents also raised other concerns about access, traffic, contamination from the nearby former gasometer site, and flooding, and many of these issues were taken up by councillors.

Cllr Maddy Chapman said: “I don’t think this is in keeping with the street scene.

“If you’ve got bungalows around, I don’t think you can suddenly put apartments in.”

Cllr Pat Graham said: “This does not look as if it fits in with the street scene at all.

“It looks out of proportion. I’d call it overdevelopment.

“I know [Devon county] highways have not objected, but in due course I’m sure there will have to be something done about the entrance, because it’s simply very unsafe.”

The committee voted to oppose the scheme, saying it would be overbearing and out of keeping with the street scene.

Members also cited concerns about traffic, possible contaminated land and flooding from water run-off.

Cllr Nash had argued in favour of the scheme, saying: “As far as this planning committee is concerned, we can only comment on any true material planning grounds. I can’t see any objections on pure planning grounds.”

He had argued that the plan was not overdevelopment or overbearing, as it was in a large plot and was not higher than the existing bungalows.

Unhappy at the decision, he announced his resignation from the committee at the end of the meeting.

He said: “I am appalled.

“People have a right to say ‘no’ to something. To abstain, I think, is even worse, particularly if you’ve got a whole group of people sitting in the public gallery you don’t want to upset, [as they] may not vote for you,

“On that basis, I do not wish to be a member of this planning committee and I resign from tonight.”

Objectors are holding a meeting for concerned residents to discuss the plan at Christ Church, North Street, on Monday, February 1, at 6.30pm.

East Devon District Council will have the final say on planning permission.


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