Controversial bid for affordable housing

PUBLISHED: 08:36 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:27 15 June 2010

KILMINGTON residents are angry land left to the parish 20 years ago could be developed arguing it is against the late benefactor's wishes.

KILMINGTON residents are angry land left to the parish 20 years ago could be developed - arguing it is against the late benefactor's wishes.Villagers flocked to a Kilmington Parish Council planning meeting for a second time in a bid to fight proposals to build affordable housing on a strip of land at Meadow Bank.The land was given to the parish council by Marian Constable before she died.Kilmington resident Philippa Beckingsale told the Herald her late husband, Bruce, had been the solicitor for Mrs Constable's deed, and had also acted as chairman of the parish council.She said: "As far as I remember, it was not her wish to have the land developed." The revelations follow a report in the Herald last month, which recorded comments made at an earlier meeting. Villager Gordon Dendle said then some residents were opposed to the housing scheme because they remembered Mrs Constable, saying she wanted the council to protect the land from future development.Ted Dutton, of Meadow Bank, told last week's meeting he had contacted the executors of the will, Mr and Mrs MacIntosh. He said: "They had the distinct impression it was her intention in giving the council the land - to stop further development."His wife, Maureen, also questioned the likelihood of houses being built and their quality. She said: "It's all tacky. They are not going to be built because there isn't the money. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I came here - but you want to make it hell."Chairing the meeting, Councillor Michael Collier said the land was donated without any covenants attached. He said: "If she didn't want building on the land, I would think that would be the most important clause in the deed."He added that a survey was carried out by the Rural Housing Trust, who would handle the application were it accepted. Survey results showed 73 per cent of respondents were in favour of affordable housing."Obviously most people in the village think it's important we put this forward," he said. "But we still don't know if it's going to happen. "If there's no interest by Kilmington people, then there's no scheme. It's primarily for Kilmington people."An application to build 70 houses at Meadow Bank had been turned down in 1988. It was hoped this proposal for a small development in a "corner of the field" would be viewed more favourably. While many councillors felt they should seize such an opportunity, there were dissident voices.Councillor Dr Simon Hodges said: "I wasn't keen on the tarmac development and I'm not keen on this one." Councillor Gavin Davie argued the application was done in secrecy and they should have been informed earlier. "I feel it should have been more open," he said. "Rightly some people feel it's been imposed. It's not clear to me why that site was chosen - I would like to know. It's disrupting people who already live there."He said The Orchard area should be looked at as a possibility - commenting they were not private houses.Councillor Christopher Bolton said he found that remark offensive, but agreed they should ask East Devon District Council why Meadow Bank was the preferred site.District councillor Iain Chubb, who is the youth champion for East Devon, said his priority was to help young workers who could not afford to get on the property ladder.He said: "Young people in the area want somewhere to live and that's what the council is trying to provide. "Rural communities need to keep young people or there will be nobody to provide services. "At the moment a home costs 10 times the average person's salary. "We want affordable and sustainable housing. "It's an exciting time for the village, though you are always going to get people who are not that enthusiastic about it."We have to see it through to the end. I am sure the Rural Housing Trust will build something sympathetic to the village which will enhance it.

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