A planning inquiry into controversial plans to build more than 1,000 new homes on the edge of Newton Abbot has concluded.
The outline scheme, submitted by PCL Planning on behalf of the Rew family, would see 1,210 new homes built on the rolling green hills of Wolborough Barton.
They also involved 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.
Also included in the plans is a new boutique hotel in place of the Wolborough Farmstead, for which full planning permission is asked for.
Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee in February had unanimously rejected the plans for the 165-acres of farmland over concerns over how the scheme would impact of the South Hams Special Area of Conservation, the lack of early delivery of the link road, and the inadequate protection for the Wolborough Fen.
But the rejected application was a duplicate application of a 1,275 homes scheme – subsequently revised to 1,210 homes – which PCL Planning had previously appealed against the non-determination by the council of.
Government planning inspector Frances Mahoney was in charge of the planning inquiry over the non-determination by the council of the original application. The first three days of the inquiry took place in March, with two more days of evidence heard this week.
Representatives of PCL Planning, Teignbridge District Council, and the Wolborough Residents’ Association and Abbotskerswell Parish Council, who participated in the inquiry as a Rule 6 party, will now formally submit their closing arguments to the inspector in writing.
The hearing on Tuesday heard that these should be submitted by July 1, and the inspector said following her receipt of them, the closing arguments should then be published in full on the council’s website.
Mrs Mahoney will then write a report based on the evidence she heard during the inquiry before making a recommendation of either approval or refusal to the Secretary of State, who will make the final decision on the scheme.
The Wolborough site is part of the NA3 allocation of around 1,500 homes for development within Teignbridge’s Local Plan.
Newton Says No campaigners had stood, and saw three of their members elected to the council in May, on a platform that included getting the NA3 allocation removed from the Local Plan.
(Image: Daniel Clark)
At last month’s annual council meeting, Cllr Richard Daws, Newton Says No councillor for Ambrook, had asked for the NA3 land to be removed from its designation as development land by the incoming Executive.
But in response, the new Portfolio Holder for Planning, Cllr Gary Taylor, said that while he shared many of the concerns that Cllr Daws and Newton Says No had raised, it is not legally possible for a council to unilaterally and immediately amend an adopted local plan.
He said though that there were two stumbling blocks that the council faces even if it wished to remove the Wolborough site from the Local Plan.
The first would be that a planning inspector may allow the appeal submitted by the Rew family for outline plans for 1,210 new homes to be built on the rolling green hills of Wolborough Barton.
The second, Cllr Taylor said, was that any update to the local plan would currently mandate the ‘national calculation for housing need’ of 760 per year instead of the 620 in the current plan, so an extra 2,100 homes would be required to be built by 2033 and allocations for those houses found.
If Wolborough was to be taken out of the Local Plan entirely, then that number would rise to 3,600 additional homes.
A separate planning application for up to 450 houses, employment land, and local shops at Langford Bridge Farm, land also included with the NA3 allocation, has been submitted to Teignbridge District Council.
The inquiry had been told that the very earliest that any decision on that scheme would be made would be at August’s planning committee meeting.