Exmouth homes and playing fields plan approved


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Plans for new age-restricted homes and regenerated football pitches in Exmouth have been approved by district planners.

Developer Blue Cedar Homes proposed the scheme on the former Rolle College Playing Fields site, off Douglas Avenue, with 23 homes, and three pitches of varying sizes.

A majority of councillors on East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee voted to approve the plan this week, saying that although the proposed homes would be outside Exmouth’s built-up area boundary, against planning policy, the benefit of bringing the pitches back into use outweighed this.

Councillor Mark Williamson said: “I have to be pragmatic and say, if this will retain the playing fields in perpetuity, then that outweighs the policy problems we have by building outside the built-up area boundary.”

Bill Richardson, of Blue Cedar Homes, had asked councillors to approve the scheme without imposing an ‘overage’ clause, through which, if the developer makes more money than expected from a scheme, the council is entitled to ask for a proportion for community benefit. Mr Richardson said such a clause would put the project’s funding at risk, but councillors were unimpressed by this, saying it was their policy to apply such clauses to all schemes of this type.

Councillor Ben Ingham said that if the scheme did fall through as a result, then the council could look to compulsorily purchase the site and regenerate the sports pitches itself, though EDDC development manager Chris Rose warned that this would be expensive.

Some councillors voted against approval, with Councillor Steve Gazzard citing the concern about the built-up area boundary, and that the proposed homes are for over-55s, rather than affordable homes for families.