Plans for 300 new homes in Exmouth agreed despite concerns over lack of affordable housing
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Plans for more than 300 new homes to be built on the edge of Exmouth have been given the go-ahead despite the scheme ‘lacking vision and being fit for the 20th, not 21st century.’
East Devon District Council’s planning committee almost unanimously backed the recommendation of officers to approve the scheme for the Goodmores Farm site at Hulham Road.
Outline planning permission for the scheme was granted for up to 350 homes back in June 2018, which included only five per cent of the homes being affordable.
And while councillors were upset with the lower than 25 per cent policy requirements, there was nothing they could do to change it as the principle of the development had previously been agreed.
The scheme, which was backed by 11 votes to one, with one abstention, includes 303 homes, 2.3 hectares of mixed-use employment land, 1.3 hectares of land for a primary school, a football pitch and a locally equipped area for play.
Cllr Ben Ingham, who represents the Woodbury and Lympstone ward, called for the scheme to be approved.
He said: “Of all the sites, this is the runt of the litter and the reason it has taken so long to come forward is because it offers the greatest challenges for the development and the least amount of profit.
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“What passed and outline is of great benefit, only 300 homes not 350 are to be built on the plot, so we should grab this and there are so many merits that weren’t on the table five years ago, so it would not be good to reject this.”
But cllr Maddy Chapman, who represents the Exmouth Brixington ward, described the scheme as being one that should read ‘could do better’, while Cllr Paul Millar, who represents the Exmouth Halsdon ward said that in its current form the plans were ‘disgusting’.
He added: “Exmouth is dire and urgent need of more affordable homes.
“This makes a mockery of the spirit of the local plan and neighbourhood plan where the target is 25 per cent, but to see just 16 affordable homes out of 303 in an insult and doesn’t provide any benefits to Exmouth.
“This flagship new housing development says to many younger people seeking a first house, ‘you are not welcome here’.
“There is a high need for affordable housing will grow even further and you have to ponder how the passing of time made this inappropriate and unbalanced.
“This application in its current form is disgusting.”
Cllr Olly Davey added that the proposals were a missed opportunity.
He said: “This was a chance to create a forward looking, fit for the 21st century housing estate here with open living spaces, green spaces, provision for active travel, clear walking and cycling routes, but that doesn’t appear to be provided.
“We have a similar housing estate to much of what exists in Exmouth already and lacks infrastructure. This lacks vision and we have a 20th century site with a loss of biodiversity, doesn’t relate well to the context of the site and provides poor amenity to residents.”
Cllr Philip Skinner said: “It is a very difficult site to come out of but we have to balance to get a scheme that is going to work along with what people want to see, and if you play too hardball, you can end up with not a lot at all., and while this may not be totally satisfactory, it may be what we end up with.”
Cllr David Key added: “This will have to go forward as we wouldn’t stand much chance at an appeal.”
After nearly two hours of debate, councillors voted by 11 votes to one, with one abstention to grant the reserved matters permission for the scheme.
The meeting also saw the committee unanimously approve plans for the part demolition and part redevelopment of the Tower Street Methodist Church in the centre of Exmouth to create 19 residential units plus development to provide two retail units