Local businesses are being 'forced out'

PUBLISHED: 16:00 06 July 2015

Archant

Businesses that have loyally supported the Honiton economy say they are being forced out of an industrial estate to make way for a 150-homes development.

More than half of the units on the Ottery Moor Lane park are empty, but those companies that remain are determined to stay.

EDDC’s draft Local Plan says that Honiton is to ‘move forward’.

Gavin Spiller, EDDC’s principal planning officer, said there are surplus units available at Heathpark, adding: “Redevelopment wouldn’t harm the existing employment land supply.”

There are a number of trees at the edge of the site that are subject to protection orders.

The developers said the expected 25 per cent proportion of affordable homes would make the project unviable. They offered to make 17.3 per cent of them, or 26 homes, affordable, and create a play area.

Andrew Pauley, from Car Maintenance Centre Ltd, objected to the proposals, saying: “There are businesses on this park. These are people bringing in a lot of trade and supporting Honiton.”

His business was established 16 years ago and employs five people. Mr Pauley said many units at Heathpark are unsuitable – and he was told he would have to pay a year’s rent up front to move his business to one of the vacant units. He added that Heathpark’s relatively more remote location would mean he would lose out on the trade he is dependent on.

“What happens when I need to be forced out?” he asked. “It’s going to cost me money.

“We’ve had no help from anybody, no visits from the council – we’ve just been served with notice. You’re kicking everybody out.

“That’s a lot of people that support Honiton trade.”

Gareth Hooper, the developer’s agent, said: “This will provide 150 much-needed new homes, including 26 affordable homes and a play area.

“It will provide exactly what’s set out in the emerging Local Plan. There’s little demand for industrial unit spaces here or elsewhere in Honiton.”

He said it will be several years before the development goes ahead and he hopes that will be time for the businesses find alternative premises.

“Refusal will not lead to uptake of the vacant units,” Mr Hooper added. “It will result in you having to look elsewhere for housing.”

Councillor Mike Howe said: “I don’t feel we are helping them.

“I would like to know what we could do. We don’t want to lose any businesses but we need to move on.”

EDDC’s development management committee voted to approve the application.

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