NEW homes in Winkleigh labelled as “bland, boring and overdevelopment” won’t be going ahead, even though officers at Torridge said it should.
But councillors on the district council’s planning committee say if they support the application for 71 properties on land north of Chulmleigh Road on the edge of the village they “might as well throw the local plan out the window”.
Council officers urged the committee to comply with their policies, both in the local plan and community driven neighbourhood plan, which protect the character of the ancient Saxon town.
They were told that a higher density development on this site, which is already earmarked for homes, would mean lower spread of housing in the open countryside in the future.
But councillors claimed there is no justification for the increase in the number of new homes by Lovell Housing from the original proposal of 55 to 71.
They say the design is unimaginative and there is not enough landscaping to create a buffer zone between the development and Court Castle, a scheduled monument.
Cllr Angela Findlay from Winkleigh Parish Council said in a statement read at the meeting: “Once again we face the planning committee to defend our village against overdevelopment, nearly 300 planned to-date and computer-aided pattern book designed estates which pay no homage to our community endorsed neighbourhood plan.”
She said the scheme would contribute to additional traffic in a village already suffering from speeding problems as evidenced by the local speedwatch team.
“Winkleigh is the local largest centre in Torridge and requires the district’s award-winning planning officers and councillors to hold landowners to higher standards of design and environmental concerns to prepare developments for future generations and climate change.”
Councillors referred to the policy which stated that up to 55 homes could be built on the site.
They said that there had been insufficient time to assess the impact of two recently built developments and the design and layout of what was being proposed in the current application was in “complete isolation” to the rest of the village.
Cllr Simon Newton (Con, Winkleigh) said: “In 2017, a need for 60 houses in Winkleigh was identified, 55 of which would be located on this site, since then this committee has already approved the building of 190 houses in this village.
“Our local plan said the delivery of these homes would be through high quality design that reflects local distinctiveness. I, together with many other elected councillors, have become increasingly perplexed, angry even, when our planning staff continue to try to push the bounds beyond the direction that we have given them.
“This is a boring, urban layout which does not in any way complement the requirements of this ancient Saxon village with two historic monuments.
“Let’s see a plan that fits and complies with what we have said because otherwise we just might as well throw the local plan out the window.”
Cllr Chris Leather (Ind, Northam), who proposed that the application should be refused, said: “I think it is dreadful, design does not even come into it and there’s been no consultation with the parish council or residents of Winkleigh that I can see.”
Cllr Peter Hames (Green, Appledore) said: “This is a highly sensitive gateway site into Winkleigh. It is up to us to provide a sensitive design.”
Alban Henderson from Lovell’s agents Walsingham Planning said a number of revisions had been made to the design following discussion with officers to better reflect local character, materials and the setting of the ancient monument.
He said there had been significantly more landscaping and a community woodland formed part of the scheme and a pedestrian crossing would go some way to easing speeding issues. The developer was also contributing to the sports area and green areas which would be linked to the site.
“Policy dictates efficient use of land and we believe this application does that,” he said.
Planning officer Kristain Evely said there had been no objections from schools or doctors’ surgeries regarding infrastructure.
“We recognise, like Historic England, that there is some harm to the scheduled monument but this is outweighed by the benefits of the scheme.”