Planning inspector rules in favour of preserving a wildlife haven between Seaton and Colyford

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“Green wedge” campaigners are celebrating victory in their battle to halt a massive housing development on a wildlife haven between Colyford and Seaton.

A planning inspector this week rejected an appeal by Seaton Park (Devon) Ltd against the planning authority’s refusal to allow them to build some 170 homes, along with offices, business units and a sports complex on farmland off Harepath Road – a habitat for birds and animals, including rare bats.

The planning inquiry was held at Colyford Memorial Hall in December when inspector Geoffrey Hill considered five main issues:

• The effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area, having regard to the landscape setting and the desirability of maintaining separation between Seaton and Colyford.

• The effect of the proposed development on wildlife with particular regard to bats.

• Whether the scheme includes an appropriate proportion of affordable housing having regard to local needs and the viability of the development.

• Whether the scheme would lead to an unacceptable loss of good quality agricultural land.

• Whether any adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposed scheme when assessed against the policies of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Dimissing the appeal the inspector ruled that the arguments for and against the scheme were finely balanced – there was an evident shortage of in the housing land supply. But on balance the situation was not so acute that it represented a compelling justification to set aside the well established ‘green wedge’ policy.

Both Seaton town council and the villagers at Colyford strongly opposed the development. Former Seaton Mayor Peter Burrows toel The Herald that the inspector’s decision was “great news”.

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