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Inspector approves controversial housing plan after council refused duplicate

Controversial plans for more than 1,000 new homes to be built on the rolling green hills on the edge of Newton Abbot have been allowed by a Government inspector.

PCL Planning’s scheme, submitted on behalf of the Rew family, has been granted planning permission by the Secretary of State for the land at Wolborough Barton.

As well as the 1,210 new homes, the Wolborough scheme includes a new primary school, employment land, community facilities, including a day nursery and a health centre, a local shopping centre, play area, allotments and a multi-use games area, as well as a link road connecting the A380 and the A381.

Full planning permission to convert the Wolborough Barton farmstead into a boutique hotek, restaurant and bar, has been granted by the Secretary of State as well.

It follows an appeal submitted following the non-determination of Teignbridge District Council over the application, and the rejection by the council’s planning committee of a duplicate scheme.

The scheme was refused on the grounds of insufficient information on the effect on the South Hams Special Area of Conservation, the lack of early delivery of the link road, no adequate mechanism for securing necessary Section 106 Obligations and inadequate protection for the Wolborough Fen.

But planning inspector Frances Mahoney in her report said that there were no identified harms and no barriers either in respect of conflict with the

Development Plan policy or Government guidance which should stand in the way of planning permission being granted.

A spokesman for Teignbridge District Council said: “We note the decision of the planning inspector to allow the appeal and so grant planning permission. As an authority, we will now work with the developers to ensure that all conditions and obligations associated with the planning permission are fulfilled.

“We recognise that the planning inspector’s decision will disappoint the many people who opposed the application.”

The plans for Wolborough had been controversial with more than 5,500 people signing a petition against the development, and the Newton Says No Group, who have fought against the development plans, subsequently won three seats in last May’s district council elections.

The report of the Secretary of State, granting permission for the scheme, says: “The appeal scheme is in accordance with the development plan overall.  The proposal would provide 1210 new homes, which attracts significant weight in favour. This includes a policy-compliant level of affordable housing, which adds further weight. Taken together, this attracts very significant weight in favour.

“There would be new community facilities, commercial space, and a primary school, attracting moderate weight. There would be economic benefits from the construction and occupation of the homes, also attracting significant weight when considered together with the various employment opportunities offered by the proposal.

“The proposal would deliver a new road link that would help improve air quality in the wider district, attracting limited weight and there would be no adverse effect on the integrity of the South Downs SAC.

“Overall the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that the benefits of the appeal scheme are collectively sufficient to outbalance the identified ‘less than substantial’ harm to the significance of the Grade-I listed St Mary the Virgin church, particularly taking into account the importance of the NA3 allocation to the Council’s strategy for future growth and economic prosperity.”

It adds: “I consider in so a far as my conclusions are relevant to the recommendation within this Report, that the above measures of mitigation would be sufficient to ensure that the proposed development would not, beyond scientific doubt, have an adverse effect on the integrity of the South Hams SAC, nor would it result in a diminishing of the quality and importance of the SSSI as an ecological habitat.

“The provision of two care homes would respond to the needs of people as they reach different stages of their lives providing appropriate accommodation options and the provision of a youth centre, local shops, community facilities and primary school could be seen to just mitigate for the needs of future residents of the development.

“The NA3 allocation is a key part of proposals to meet the adopted strategy of the Council for the distribution and level of development and supporting infrastructure, to achieve economic prosperity, quality environment and the wellbeing of the community up until 2033.

“It has been concluded that the appeal site is in a location accessible to services and facilities described as highly sustainable. The encouragement of cycling, walking, implementation of the Travel Plan, along with the provision of the new circular bus route would provide options for other modes of transport other than the car.

“The proposed highway improvements, whilst being mitigating measures for the impact of the proposed development, would benefit the wider population in respect of improving highway safety.”

Full planning permission for the Wolborough Barton hotel proposals have been granted, while the 1,210 homes scheme and associated infrastructure has been granted in outline.

A reserved matters application for elements of detail for the application, concerning access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale will need to be submitted and approved before work can begin.

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporting partnership

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