Topsham green wedge campaign springs into action

Save the Topsham Gap poster in town. Ref ext 0010-45-14PS Picture: Paul Strange

Save the Topsham Gap poster in town. Ref ext 0010-45-14PS Picture: Paul Strange - Credit: Archant

There are fears that the Topsham Gap – the “green wedge” between the town and Exeter – could be lost forever.

The concerns follow the successful application by Heritage Developments to create 23 new homes and a golf driving range on land off Exeter Road in Topsham.

Two further applications are waiting in the wings at Exeter City Council’s planning department.

One is for a 1,140sqm Aldi food store on a green field site on land to the south of Exeter Road. The other is for a 55-house development on land adjacent to Topsham Rugby Ground on Exeter Road.

If both applications are approved, the Topsham Gap could be severely threatened.

The Heritage Developments application – for 23 new homes, including 35 per cent affordable homes – was approved in late September, despite objections from residents.

The proposed new Aldi store would comprise a 1,635sqm foodstore, with associated access, car parking, landscaping and other associated work.

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Meanwhile, the housing development is described as a ‘phased development of a 60-bed residential care home, 47 assisted-living apartments and 55 age-restricted dwellings’.

The developers, Waddeton Park Ltd, say the three-acre site is ‘well suited to retirement and elderly living’, would ‘help Exeter City Council meet the need for new accommodation for the ageing population’, and would ‘provide an opportunity to enhance the ecology of the area’.

Local residents have launched a campaign objecting to the plans. “Save the Topsham Gap!” - saying ‘no’ to the Waddeton Park development - has sprung into action, with placards around the town, plus a Facebook page.

Campaigners are objecting to the proposals, saying that Topsham is ‘well provided’ with housing for the elderly, and they have concerns about the impact on flora, fauna and biodiversity. They also say the development would cause congestion on Exeter Road, have highlighted the potential for traffic accidents and feel it would bring ‘increased pressure’ on health services, such as doctors’ surgeries and the local hospital. They are especially concerned that the development would erode the Topsham Gap forever, losing the town’s identity and ‘turning it into a suburb of Exeter’.

Campaigners are urging residents to write to Exeter City planning department about the plans. So far the department has received 427 responses, none of them in favour.