‘Rat run’ fears over Exmouth housing development


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A developer that wants to build hundreds of new homes in Exmouth is encouraging the use of ‘rat runs’ through residential roads to solve traffic problems with the site, councillors have revealed.

The development of 350 homes at Plumb Park, around Donkey Hill at the end of Buckingham Close, received outline planning permission in 2013.

Developer Littleham 2010 and housebuilder Taylor Wimpey have now applied for full permission for 264 of these homes, alongside outline permission for the remaining 86.

Discussing the application at this week’s Exmouth Town Council planning committee meeting, Councillor John Humphreys hit out at a report provided by the applicants concerning roads that residents of the new homes could use to access the site.

Neighbours previously raised concerns about what the development would mean for traffic levels at Littleham Cross, although county highways officers did not object when outline planning permission was granted.

At this week’s meeting, former mayor Cllr Humphreys said: “The transport assessment encourages the use of ‘rat runs’ out of the development to avoid Littleham Cross.

“In their words, ‘It will be possible to utilise a number of other roads in the immediate vicinity to access the wider highway network’.

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“Our residents are going to be quite upset about that.”

Cllr Humphreys said that the transport assessment used out-of-date information, which preceded the approval of 50 homes at nearby Pankhurst Close.

He said the planned layout of affordable homes at the site was against planning policy, as they were all grouped in one area, rather than ‘pepper-potted’ among the open-market homes.

Cllr Humphreys also said concerns about the impact of construction traffic in Buckingham Close had not been mitigated.

The planning committee was due to vote on the application on Monday. However, due to the complexity of the plans, Cllr Humphreys suggested deferring the decision, to allow all the relevant information to be considered.

The committee agreed with this, and a decision is now expected at its next meeting on May 31.

East Devon District Council will then make the final decision regarding planning permission.

District councillor for Littleham Mark Williamson has already said, via the council’s website, that the application should be refused, citing many of the same concerns as Cllr Humphreys, including the traffic arrangements.

Cllr Williamson said: “There is an extraordinary statement in the transport assessment which actually promotes the use of ‘rat runs’, tacitly accepting that there are congestion problems at Littleham Cross and motorists are encouraged to use non-traffic-light-controlled residential roads to avoid this.”