Battle to save Seaton green space ends in defeat

Loss of former playing field for housing development deplored by campaigners

A TEN year battle to save one of Seaton’s last urban green spaces has ended in bitter defeat.

East Devon District Council planners have finally given the go ahead for 12 homes on the former primary school playing field at Court Lane.

Amended plans, for the previously rejected scheme, were approved by the development control committee, despite 25 letters of objection and opposition from the town council.

Members approved the Cavanna Group application after their officers told them the land was not in public or recreation use and its development will not represent “a real loss of open space facilities in the town”.

The decision has been greeted with dismay by David Morgan , who has led the fight to save one of the resort’s last “green lungs”.

And he condemned East Devon District Council for failing to respect the wishes of local people, who demanded the site should be retained as Land of Local Amenity Importance.

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He said: “Yet again, Seaton has been sold out to development, losing an important site that, until it was fenced off by the applicant in July 2002, had been used as of right and without hindrance or secrecy by residents of Seaton, and beyond, for a period stretching back 60 years.

“It is a very sad day for Seaton and shows that greed ultimately wins, not moral values or democracy.”

Hugh Barlow, chairman of Seaton Development Trust, which backed the campaign, accused the district council of failing to make sufficient efforts to retain the site as an open space.

He said: “Seaton Development Trust had secured funds for a feasibility study for a leisure centre on the site of the school, leaving the playing field as just that. The district council was apparently set to buy the site for the community, but, at the last minute, they reduced their offer by �5,000, so allowing Cavanna Homes to outbid them by exactly that amount.“

Mr Barlow said the council subsequently downgraded its status to that of Community Open Space, in spite of 97 representations supporting the retention of its designation as Land of Local Amenity Importance.

He added: “It appears that nothing makes any difference if the developer persists, possession becomes all ten points of the law.”