THERE was delight in a packed council chamber at the Civic Centre in Barnstaple today when North Devon Council’s planning Committee refused a planning application for 277 homes on the former Fremington Army Camp site.
Members of the Army Camp Safe Access Group, who opposed the application on grounds the proposed access is unsafe, clapped, cheered and congratulated each other after Councillor Frank Biederman, the local ward member, moved the application be turned down for three reasons.
The chamber was full to capacity with standing room only, while a large number of people who attended the meeting to see discussion about an application for a wind turbine near Chulmleigh were asked to wait outside.
The meeting started with NDC’s planning manager Keith Bines running through the scheme and issues which were raised in October, when the application was deferred for nine reasons.
It had been the hope of the committee that developers Fremington Developments LLP would take into account those reasons and reconsider their plans.
But the developer instead notified the council it intended to appeal against the decision to defer on grounds of non-determination, which meant the application was again bought to the planning committee today.
Mr Biederman said the developer’s decision was symptomatic of an approach which “has been arrogant throughout the consultation process”.
Alan Pearce, Fremington Developments LLP’s agent, said the company didn’t believe there was a need to amend the plans.
“I have been instructed to start an appeal if you don’t reach a positive decision today and have been advised we have a very strong case,” he told the committee.
When John Kelly, of ACSAG, then spoke he said this again showed Mr Pearce’s “contempt” for locals.
Several members of the public spoke to put forward new submissions to the committee before Rodney Cann, chairman of Fremington Parish Council, revealed two County Councillors who recommended the county’s development management committee approve the plan have since told him they would have voted against the plan, had they had more information at the time of the vote.
“I would recommend the committee don’t place too much weight on that recommendation,” he said.
It was left to Mr Biederman, as local ward member, to move the application be refused, a motion which was unanimously carried.
He said: “I came with an open mind today and hoped I would hear new evidence but have simply encountered more of the arrogance we have encountered throughout the consultation period.
“Of course the people of Fremington don’t necessarily want these houses to be built but we do realise there’s a need for them and we want somewhere for our young people to live in future.
“Which is why very few people object to the number of houses, just to the access.”
Mr Biederman’s proposal saw the application refusedas a result of the restricted width of the proposed access via Military Road, the restricted width of a pavement alongside that road and a lack of secondary access, contrary to several planning requirements.