Masterplan ‘must be right’, says Axminster councillor
PUBLISHED: 07:01 24 December 2019
District councillor Sara Jackson is urging people to work together to ensure Axminster’s Masterplan – for up to 850 new homes and a relief road – is right for the town.
A member of the Independent East Devon Alliance group, she said the different views on the proposed urban extension to the town's north-eastern flank need to be addressed.
She said: "I was delighted to have the opportunity to present to the EDDC Strategic Planning Committee on Monday, December 9, along with my fellow ward members.
"After an extremely thorough debate, covering almost all of the issues that have been aired by the public since May, it was unanimously noted that, sadly, the promised Housing Infrastucture Fund (HIF) money for the relief road has been withdrawn.
"However, the committee unanimously agreed that that officer recommendations to push ahead with piecemeal development were not acceptable.
"Neither were the proposals to reduce other benefits such as the provision of employment space and delivery of much needed affordable homes.
"They were adamant that the forward delivery of the road must remain the primary focus of the entire masterplan.
"This is not the end of the story but it does take us all towards securing a deal which works for Axminster in its entirety.
"The Masterplan consultants will be asked to urgently review how development is delivered in the town in the years to come. This should ensure that infrastructure and services develop at a rate which meets both the needs of new residents and the needs of the existing Axminster community.
"I will be working with my fellow councillors and the town council to secure the very best deal for Axminster.
"It was consistently emphasised that our town does need to have a comprehensive and robust Neighbourhood Plan which must take into account the needs, aims, aspirations and concerns of all residents.
"This must be developed in an open and inclusive manner. An adopted Neighbourhood Plan would enable Axminster to take better control of its own destiny.
"Whilst the housing numbers proposed in the Local Plan are set in stone, the design, delivery and location of these houses - and the associated open space, employment land and public services - would best be decided by local people, rather than by a faceless committee.
"This surely is what we, as Axminster residents, would wish to see.
"I am always willing to listen to different views and opinions and there are still issues with the Masterplan that I profoundly disagree with. These need to be addressed.
"Conversely, there are elements within it that I recognise would be of benefit to the town and these must be safeguarded.
"It is a plan which needs further review as the changes it proposes to Axminster could be significant and therefore we need to work together to get this right, first time."