No relief road for Axminster?

PUBLISHED: 11:47 19 May 2010 | UPDATED: 01:14 16 June 2010

Fred Wells.

Fred Wells.

A RETIRED Axminster businessman has hit out at plans for 400 new homes on a green field site considered the lungs of the town.

A RETIRED Axminster businessman has hit out at plans for 400 new homes on a green field site considered the lungs of the town.

Fred Wells is concerned the outline application, submitted to East Devon district Council by Axminster Carpets, will rob Axminster of long-held plans for an eastern relief road and cause traffic gridlock in the town centre.

As the deadline for comments on the application loomed, Mr Wells, 65, told the Midweek Herald: "My big concern is that, if this application for land at Cloakham Lawns goes ahead, we will lose our relief road. The development cannot deliver it.

"Persimmon is poised to submit a planning application for 700 houses that will deliver the town's aspirations.

"Both applications cannot succeed, because Axminster's infrasturcture could not cope in terms of education and health provision."

Mr Wells is convinced Axminster faces its biggest planning decision in modern history.

Axminster Carpets is seeking permission to construct a mixed use development of 400 homes and up to 12,000 square feet of managed employment floor space. The company is guaranteeing the retention of prized recreational facilities at Cloakham Lawns.

Persimmon's plans are for land behind Millwey Rise.

"It would be tragic to lose the rolling meadow at Cloakham," said Mr Wells. "Persimmon's proposal involves low-grade agricultural land that is largely hidden from view."

Mr Wells, a former chairman of Axminster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added: "If we allow Axminster Carpets' plan to go ahead, we will lose a beautiful meadow and the town centre will be gridlocked."

The deadline for comments on Axminster Carpets' proposal is May 20. Comments received after that date may not be taken into account.

Josh Dutfield, managing director of Axminster Carpets, said "It seems apparent from the relevant councils that East Devon needs housing, particularly affordable housing.

"This plan is by far the most deliverable in terms of time- line, but would also generate capital for the company that would be invested back into Axminster Carpets to help create jobs and give the local economy a much-needed boast.

"We have been part of the community for many years and are here to stay and in that regard the company would reinvest and not 'take the money and run'.

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