Dozens of new retirement apartments are on their way to Exmouth town centre after a successful appeal. 

Churchill Retirement Living had applied to build a three-storey apartment block of 54 retirement flats, as well as six cottages and car parking, landscaping, and commercial units on the site of the Jewson builders’ merchant on Fore Street. 

Planning officers had recommended councillors give permission because of its “highly sustainable location” and that it would use an already developed site to boost the council’s housing supply. 

East Devon District Council’s planning committee refused the application last June over concerns about a loss of employment land and more housing exclusively for elderly residents. 

At the time, councillors questioned whether more retirement homes were required in the town and highlighted the need for one- and two-bedroom flats and houses for younger people. Exmouth Town Council objected with similar concerns. 

After the refusal, the chairman of Churchill Retirement Living, Spencer J McCarthy, hit back at representatives. 

He described their comments as “insulting and frankly discriminatory” to the elderly and “ageism pure and simple.”

Following legal advice, the council’s planning committee later decided to withdraw its reasons for refusal and to not contest the appeal.

The Planning Inspectorate has now overturned the council’s decision and granted permission for the development. 

It said that it would “lead to a net increase in jobs,” that there was an “existing and projected unmet need for specialist accommodation for older persons in the district” and that current noise and traffic issues would be improved.