'Trojan' homes plan rejected

A CONTROVERSIAL planning application to build 149 homes in Seaton has been turned down by East Devon District Council.

A CONTROVERSIAL planning application to build 149 homes in Seaton has been turned down by East Devon District Council.Parish councillors and residents packed into the Colyford Memorial Hall to speak out against the proposed development - which would have included 70 per cent affordable homes.Councillors voted against the application to build on land opposite Peacehaven, Harepath Hill - concluding it was not a suitable site and against the residents' wishes.A spokesmen for Barkley Park Homes and Magna Housing Association argued during the development control committee that the opportunity to build much-needed affordable homes should not be missed.District councillor Steve Wragg said residents' objections were based on planning principles rather than a 'not in my back garden' attitude.He said: "This is a Trojan development. The volume of the development is outside the boundary so I don't think it's acceptable in any form."EDDC Cllr Helen Parr, ward member for the Coly Valley, added they did not want to go in for 'panic planning'. Many councillors agreed there was a need for affordable housing but felt there were more suitable sites. EDDC's head of planning Kate Little, policy liaison councillor for design, explained affordable housing was a number one priority for the council and urged councillors to set aside the site specifics and consider the overall principle.She added that, although the plan was on a green wedge, it was 'without demonstrable harm' and was an area of low ecological value.David Cutler, of Barkley Park Homes, called on residents to think about those in need of affordable housing. He said: "It's a one chance opportunity to deliver for local people."However, all bar one member of the public spoke out against the application. The one resident 'partially' in favour was a landowner looking to make a deal.Seaton mayor Sandra Semple said EDDC should abide by its policies to not build on a green wedge or set up affordable housing which would not mix communities.She said: "So, do you bend and flex your own rules and ignore best practice to suit this planning application, or do you keep to the rules you set for yourselves and listen to local people?"Colyton Cllr Alan Davis highlighted the application was not an exception site - like the development at Hillhead in Colyton - and that the Area of Natural Beauty boundary should be tightly draw around Seaton as it is in Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth.He said: "This is not an application for an exception site and I suggest the headline rate of 70 per cent affordable homes is just that, an eye-catcher - all residents will, I understand, gain rights to buy within two years."Colyton parish Cllr Bob Collier said: "I implore the community to stand up and be counted. Stand up for what you believe and keep this place somewhere people want to come to on holiday or to retire."And mayor of Colyford Colin Pavey said; "It will ruin part of our irreplaceable heritage."Members of Seaton Design Statement argued it did not take their recommendations into account and would be a 'blatant disregard for the public.'Others were concerned the development could cause social problems.Resident Paul Rutherford said the site would create social exclusion and could lead to anti-social behaviour - as he cited the company's policy for dealing with it. He added: "Frankly, Seaton's police force is ill-equipped to deal with it.