Cash appeal launched to fight Axminster homes plan

Save our Parkland group aims to raise �25,000 to fund legal challenge

CAMPAINGERS are today launching an appeal to raise �25,000 to fight plans for up to 400 homes at Cloakham Lawns, in Axminster.

The war chest will help meet the cost of mounting a legal challenge to the development.

Opponents believe East Devon District Council may have “behaved outside the law” in granting Axminster Carpets planning permission to build on the land.

And Axminster town council is considering calling for a judicial review, although it has been warned it could cost them up to �30,000.

Now the independent Save our Parkland group has begun a major fund raising campaign to ensure the costs of any court proceedings can be met.

Its chairman, Fred Wells, who has kicked off the fund with a �750 personal donation, says it is vital to save the parkland for future generations.

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He says the Cloakham housing scheme would destroy the town’s important “green lungs” - while failing to deliver the much needed north-south bypass.

He added: “There is no second chance. If we don’t act now the opportunity for the proper development of Axminster will be lost for a generation.”

Cloakham supporters claim the extra homes, built over several years, would boost the town’s prosperity and pave the way for improved local facilities – safeguarding the carpet factory’s future and providing more jobs. It would also deliver some 160 much-needed affordable homes.

But Mr Wells says a much better scheme is on offer. He says Persimmon Homes are waiting in the wings, ready to build 700 to 900 homes to the east of Millwey Rise, as well as the all-important relief road and even more affordable homes.

“But it’s either or,” he warned. “Cloakham would have to be stopped for them to go ahead.”

Launching today’s cash appeal he said: “A judicial review is not an entirely free process and Save our Parkland wish to make this possible by helping to raise necessary funds.”

Mr Wells said all donations were welcome but their main aim was to persuade 100 people to donate �100 each. It is hoped small businesses will pledge �200 and bigger companies as much as �1,000.

He added: “Any surplus funds not required will be returned to the donors on a proportionate basis.”

Appeal leaflets with details of how to donate are available from the following outlets in Axminster:

Cloud Nine florists; Labels for Less; Axminster Printers; Whitty’s Pizzeria.

* Axminster town council will meet a planning consultant this weekend to seek advice on a possible legal challenge, before meeting on Wednesday to decide its next move.