Controversial former Blackhill Quarry site expansion given the go-ahead
PUBLISHED: 10:14 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:14 12 September 2018
Woodbury residents have slammed the 'ecological act of social vandalism' of allowing a plan to expand business units at Blackhill Quarry.
East Devon District Council’s development management committee gave the go-ahead for a plan for 35,000 sq ft of additional industrial floor space to be created at the former quarry in Woodbury by six votes to five at their meeting last week.
Councillors were told that the scheme would create in the region of 70 skilled engineering jobs and there would be significant economic benefits from approval.
Objectors though spoke of how damaging it would be for the environment and the near-200 responses calling for the plan to be turned down showed the strength of feeling against the plans.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Janice Owen, chairman of the Woodbury Residents’ Association, said: “This approval flies in the face not only of the clearly expressed wishes of the local residents, but also of national planning guidelines and the Council’s own policies governing development.
“The loss of heathland is supposed to be offset by the felling of 2.9 hectares of woodland at the very time when the Government is planning to plant tens of millions more trees nationally.
“We are also concerned that this decision will prove to be the thin end of a very large wedge.
“What will happen if the engineering company decides that it needs more room for expansion, or if it finds the enterprise not to be viable? This area of the Common is now gone forever.”
Councillors had initially recommended refusing the application on the grounds of the landscape impact in the AONB it would have and that there are no exceptional circumstances to justify development in the area. But a vote for refusal was lost by six votes to five.
Cllr Helen Parr then recommended approving the scheme, as officers recommend,
Cllr Brian Bailey added: “This is one of the most difficult decisions we have had to make for a long time. I feel for the people of Woodbury, but this will have no visual impact on the area and the statutory authorities are content, as long as the mitigation is in place.”
The plan was approved by six votes to five.