Axminster OAPs living in a “ghetto”

Residents say their are “ashamed” of their housing complex and fear worse to come

ELDERLY people at an Axminster housing complex are living in a “third world-style ghetto”, it has been claimed.

The accusation comes from a neighbour of Cedar Gardens where plans to build six more homes are being fiercely opposed by nearby residents and the town council.

Justin Werb, of Shute-based Berkley Park, Cedar Ltd, is applying to put up a terrace of four houses and two flats at the front of the site, along with parking.

But his second bid to develop the land has sparked further outrage, and accusations that work has already taken place to remove important landscape features, including its namesake cedar tree.

Chartered surveyors, Martin Burke and Associates, acting for one of the objectors, have told East Devon District Council they think the applicants have chopped mature vegetation to “intentionally create a barren feel in an effort to influence the planning process.”

They add: “Cedar Gardens has been successful for many years as a quiet and peaceful home for a number of elderly residents who enjoyed the outlook and green open space.

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“The proposed scheme will change the occupation mix and will not work. This has been proven by recent younger residents who have a different agenda and the current incumbents have suffered noise issues.”

Amongst neighbours objecting is charity shop volunteer Mary Lewis, of Cedar Close.

She said since an earlier application for a larger development was refused, Cedar Gardens and adjoining Cedar Close had been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.

“The impact on the quality of our lives and property has been considerable,” she said. “When we bought this house it was a quiet, landscaped area. Where once we were proud to live in Cedar Close we are now ashamed and embarrassed by its deterioration.

“The residents of Cedar Gardens must feel the same because they now, effectively, live in a third world- style ghetto.

“The noise at times is overwhelming with traffic coming and going at all times of the day and night, car doors banging with little consideration for neighbours.

Another neighbour, pensioner Jean Olley, said she no longer feels happy living there.

“I used to walk home with a smile on my face – but in the last couple of years it has become like a tip – like a slum,” she said.

Axminster Town Council says the proposed scheme is over development.

It adds: “The proposed street-level terraced houses will have the effect of closing in what has long been a more open street scene.

“It is regrettable that enforcement action has not been taken in respect of the removal – without permission – of the landscaping previously in place on the site.”

Agents for the applicant were invited to comment but as The Herald went to press they had not done so.