East Devon Homes bid hits controversy
A MAJOR East Devon landowner has been accused of "hypocrisy" for its proposals to build on agricultural land.
Following an extensive consultation process, last month Clinton Devon Estates submitted a planning application for 350 homes on the outskirts of Exmouth at Littleham.
The development, known as Plumb Park, also includes public open space, woodlands, a community orchard, cycle routes and footpaths linking the development with the town centre, seafront and bus routes.
Exmouth Town Council recently refused to back the scheme due to inadequate infrastructure provisions, although it supported the need for more housing in the town.
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One resident, whose house backs on to the fields which would be built on, has claimed the development plan is at odds with the values the landowner says it upholds.
Andy Laws, 54, has lived in his house on Douglas Avenue for almost 12 years. "I know you have no right to a view," he said. "But this is about protecting open countryside.
"More and more produce these days is being imported from abroad and yet we have so much productive farmland available.
"I'd like to see that preserved, particularly as there are lots of brownfield sites around.
"It seems so hypocritical that Clinton Devon's values centre around a commitment to farming, protecting the environment and the countryside and yet they are proposing to develop on it, in order to make a profit."
Although refusing to comment on the 'hypocrisy' claim, a spokesman for Clinton Devon Estates said a 'thorough' public consultation exercise had been conducted. He encouraged people to submit comments to the district council for consideration as part of the planning process.
Cllr Bill Nash, Littleham ward councillor and deputy mayor, said: "The Littleham ward councillors have considered this application following lengthy discussions with the land owner over many months.
"I am in broad agreement that more housing is required in Exmouth, including affordable housing, for present and future generations.
"However a development on the scale proposed would exacerbate the congestion problems at Littleham Cross junction. And it would require measures to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety in what is an important secondary retail environment.
"Developer contributions and funding from other sources should pay for relevant upgrading works. These would be a prerequisite for this and any similar development being acceptable."
John Varley, estates director, has said the landowner had done "everything it possibly could" to encourage engagement from the town.
It had been involved in the Littleham Traffic Project, a consortium including town and county councillors and the local residents' association, which is identifying ways traffic can be improved in the area. He had been in talks with Littleham Primary School and was looking at projects development money could be put towards.