Plans for a 66-bedroom Premier Inn in Honiton have received the backing of the town council.

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The application being put forward for the former Turk’s Head Lodge site by Yelverton Properties was discussed by the town council’s planning committee last week, who unanimously supported the hotel proposal.

Andrew Davies, of Yelverton Properties, said: “We are confident that the planning terms are acceptable in relationship to the scheme and neighbouring properties.”

He told the meeting that the development would have ‘massive economic benefits for the town’ - creating 25 new jobs and would be beneficial for the needs of tourists and other businesses bringing increased spending to the town’s bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

Addressing concerns over the existing traffic and air quality issues at the Turks Head junction Mr Davies said the hotel development was ‘part of the solution not part of the problem’. He also stated that there had been extensive consultations with Devon County Council and the Highways Agency.

As part of the planning application Yelverton Properties has offered to donate a piece of land, which is needed for improvements to the Turks Head junction.

During the meeting, concerns were raised by local residents. Nia Constable, speaking on behalf of 15 residents, said the building was considered to be ‘much too big’ and the ‘sheer height’ would be overbearing the single and two-storey traditional houses.

Residents were concerned the development would impact on privacy as well as impacting on existing air quality, traffic problems and the streetscape.

Councillor John Zarczynski said the building would be set right back to reduce visual impact.

Councillor Vivienne Ash asked that the town council request that planning officers at East Devon District Council check the plan’s measurements and make sure there are no discrepancies in relation to the proximity of the building to the neighbouring properties.

Councillor Mike Allen expressed concerns about the overlooking of properties and was reassured by Mr Davies that there would be no overlooking of people’s homes from the scheme - aluminium privacy screens would be implemented. Mr Davies said: “Can I assure members of the public that we have done everything we possible can to respect people’s privacy and amenities.”

He also stated that strict guidelines had been put in place by environmental health officers at East devon District Council regarding noise from the site’s air conditioning units and the scheme was being designed to meet these criteria.

Councillor Gary Elliot added: “I do have concerns about the size of it – it is four stories and probably would be, at least, the tallest building in the town.”

The Mayor of Honiton, Councillor David Foster, said that the town council had previously highlighted the need for hotel facilities in the town. This was echoed by Councillor Vernon Whitlock who told the meeting that the need for more motel and hotel beds was identified as a priority during a community consultation.

He said: “We have got top rent hotels and limited bed and breakfasts. We need to get affordable rooms not only for business and tourism but alsofor people visiting relatives in the town to take advantage of this addition to the benefit of the town.”

He felt the site was ideal if some of the issues raised during the meeting could be resolved.

The meeting heard that changes had been made to the design following a public consultation in the town.

Councillors during the meeting also raised serious concerns regarding the need for a pedestrian crossing at Exeter Road and Turks Head Lane. Cllr Whitlock said the council should be pressing authorities for this, which was echoed by Cllr Zarczynski.

If planning for the new development is granted by EDDC, the hotel is expected to be completed as early as the beginning of next year.

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