Town planners refuse to debate proposals for new Honiton garden centre

PUBLISHED: 13:06 05 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:29 05 July 2017

Perspective drawings of the proposed garden centre at Honiton.

Perspective drawings of the proposed garden centre at Honiton.

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The decision was taken after members raised concerns of the council's relationship with the applicant.

Perspective drawings of the proposed garden centre at Honiton.Perspective drawings of the proposed garden centre at Honiton.

Town planners have turned down the chance to debate proposals for a new garden centre in Honiton.

The plans, submitted to East Devon District Council by Combe Estate, outline the build of a new garden centre on the former site of Meadow View Nursery in Gittisham.

The site, which is south of the road from Honiton to Gittisham, has been used as a commercial nursery for the last 20 years.

Honiton Town Council’s planning committee looked at the plans at a meeting last night, with members deciding to neither support or object to the project.

The proposal, which was made by Cllr Jill McNally, was narrowly carried by a 3-2 vote.

Speaking before the decision was made, Cllr McNally said: “I don’t think we should be discussing this.

“I don’t think we should be expressing a view because we have this long-term relationship with the applicant [Combe Estate].

Perspective drawings of the proposed garden centre at Honiton.Perspective drawings of the proposed garden centre at Honiton.

“We do lease land from them and I don’t think we should we should be pulled into supporting or otherwise.”

Cllr McNally said while the scheme would affect Honiton, the plans should be left to Gittisham Parish Council to debate.

She added: “I think if we start leaning either way, particularly as we have employment land here and jobs, we would not be doing the right thing at all.”

Cllr McNally’s proposal was criticised by Cllr Ken Hopkins, who reminded the committee that it had previously debated another planning application relating to a housing development in Gittisham.

He said: “I think we should be able to discuss these things and give our views.”

Committee chair Cllr Roy Coombs agreed with Cllr McNally’s approach, adding: “It is not a question of what is right and what is wrong in local government – it is a matter of perception.

“We have this long-term relationship with the applicant… We have been leasing land from Combe Estate since about 2001/02 and that is Roundball Wood.

“So that is a clear linkage.”

Cllr McNally’s proposal in full: “The town council notes the application only and does not express a view at this stage due to its long-term relationship with the applicant and the fact that the application is not in Honiton parish.”

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