Controversial plans for 1,210 new homes for Newton Abbot recommended for approval

An extremely controversial plan that would see 1,210 new homes built on green space to the south of Newton Abbot has been recommended for approval.

The scheme, of which 20 per cent of homes will be affordable, has been submitted by PCL planning on behalf of the Rew family for land at Wolborough Barton.

The plans include 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.

Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee next Tuesday will discuss the outline plans for the housing development and associated infrastructure.

If approved, then the details of the plans under a reserved matters application will then have to be submitted and go back before planners for consideration.

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The application would also see the existing agricultural buildings at Wolborough farmstead, next to St Mary’s Church, converted into a 14-bedroom boutique hotel, restaurant and bar. Full planning permission for this has been asked for.

Artist impression of Wolborough Barton hotel plans
Artist impression of Wolborough Barton hotel plans

Despite 350 objections to the application, compared to just one letter of support, Teignbridge planning officers are recommended that the scheme be approved, stating that the only deviation from the local plan policy for the site is that the provision of the link road between the A380 and the A381 through the site should be delivered before 500 homes, not 300, are occupied.

 

The report states: “The applicant has worked pro-actively with the council to produce a scheme which meets the various competing demands of the local plan policy and when considered holistically against the other benefits of the site, this later delivery trigger is considered acceptable.

“The site forms part of a local plan allocation, which was adopted following the prescribed plan preparation process. The same plan was challenged and was found sound.

“Delivery of our allocated sites is a high priority in maintaining housing delivery and a suitable level of housing land supply. Failure to maintain adequate land puts the council at risk of sites being allowed, potentially on appeal, where we might otherwise rather not see development.”

In grey, the land that will be built on as part of the plans for Wolborough
In grey, the land that will be built on as part of the plans for Wolborough

The report does add that the scheme is not complete enough to recommend an approval without caveats and states that an appropriate assessment under the Habitat Regulations must be carried out prior to approve being granted.

 

There are also 17 conditions that the applicants must comply with before plans for the new hotel at Wolborough farmstead can be approved, and 23 conditions they must meet before the outline housing plans can be approved, but the report says: “There is no overarching policy reason why the principle of this application cannot be supported.”

A new road connecting the A380 South Devon Link Road with the A381 is a key feature of the NA3 Local Plan policy and the report says that the proposed development is considered to be unacceptable on balance for reasons relating to traffic impact, air quality, place-making, access to public transport and pedestrians and cyclists without a route connecting the A380 and A381 delivered at an early stage.

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The report says that while Devon County Council recommended that no more than 300 homes should be occupied before the new road is complete, the applicants say 500 is a more viable number, adding: “A 500 unit trigger would not be unacceptable with the adverse impacts of the later trigger being balanced against delivery of other benefits.”

Aerial view of Wolborough Barton, Newton Abbot
Aerial view of Wolborough Barton, Newton Abbot

Historic England have objected as parts of the outline application is close to the historic St Mary’s Church and Natural England have objected on the grounds that there are concerns over Greater Horseshoe Bats and the impact on the Wolborough Fen.

 

The 350 objections include concerns about air pollution, insufficient employment opportunities to justify the level of housing, harm to the Wolborough Fen SSSI, the hotel is not in keeping with the area, the number of houses, increased flood risk, infrastructure capacity not being high enough, the loss of the break between Newton Abbot and neighbouring settlements, the loss of open space and farmland, the removal of green fields, the location of the primary school, the strain on neighbouring roads, the traffic assessment has been inadequate and how viable the project is.

The Wolborough Masterplan
The Wolborough Masterplan

Objections have also come from the Newton Says No campaign group, who say that the dedicated to stopping the NA3 development by ‘any means necessary’.

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for a halt to the NA3 development and thousands of people have viewed their satirical protest song against the development on Facebook and Youtube.

The one letter of support says that the area is in need of more housing as the population is growing.

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A revised masterplan outlining how the development at Wolborough should be built is currently being prepared by the council and from May, the number of new homes that must be built each year in the district will rise from 620 to 777 as the local plan will be five years old and therefore the council must use the non-negotiable standard method for calculation housing need laid down by central government.

 

The council currently has an 8.5 year land supply, but that will drop to 5.5 years when the housing need rises to 777, and if council cannot demonstrate it has a five year land supply, then more unwanted development is likely to happen as planning inspectors tend to approve applications on appeal if a five year land supply cannot be guaranteed.

Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee meets on Tuesday, February 12, at 10am, to consider the application.