Developer hits out over Brook homes ‘No’

Developers hoping to build 52 homes by Withycombe Brook have attacked opponents of the plan and Exmouth Town Council, after the council’s planning committee voted against it.

The plan to build homes between St Johns Road, Holland Road and Hadrians Way was opposed by councillors at a meeting last month.

They had concerns over flooding, schools and health provision, pressure on sewage systems, overdevelopment, and that the plan would be a departure from planning policy.

Now, Mike Davison, of Highland Property Development, has written to East Devon District Council criticising the councillors’ decision and processes, and saying they had been intimidated by objectors.

He says the councillors should not have adjourned their decision for flood and traffic reports, and then voted against them, having previously voted in favour of the scheme in May, pending flood reports.

In response, town planning chairman Lynne Elson has described the allegations as ‘unfair’, saying the meeting followed all council procedures, and praising the way the objectors conducted themselves.

In his letter, Mr Davison says: “The meeting was poorly attended, with only six councillors. Possibly due to a couple of unscrupulous objectors; threatened (sic) councillors with non-election.

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“With no ward members present and one turning up halfway through the meeting, it was quite apparent that they were not up to date with the application.

“I am aware the town councillors are volunteers and are not planning professionals but there is little point in them asking for surveys if they are going to ignore them from professional governing bodies.”

In response, Cllr Elson said: “As far as I’m concerned, no objectors were in any way confrontational, and it’s unfair to say we were threatened by them.

No-one stayed away from the meeting due to concerns.

“At all times [the objectors] were courteous and polite, and I think they had very well constructed points.

“The various issues were taken into account by the planning committee, and the decision was made following the debate.”

Cllr Elson also pointed out that, contrary to Mr Davison’s claims, there were two ward members for Withycombe at the meeting, and that councillors had read all the up-to-date reports.

She also pointed out that the committee only makes a recommendation to EDDC, which will now consider the reports for itself before making a final decision.

In their own response, objectors to the scheme Simon and Alison Foster said: “[We] do not believe councillors had not attended, due to unscrupulous objectors and suggest the developer reads the definition of the word, as none of the objectors stand to gain anything nor are they acting in any immoral fashion.”