Bid to save Axminster masterplan

PUBLISHED: 15:01 27 March 2019

The Axminster masterplan showing what the centre of the new development could look like. Picture EDDC

The Axminster masterplan showing what the centre of the new development could look like. Picture EDDC

Archant

Councillor travels to Westminster to urge the Government to save the scheme for 850 homes and a bypass

Axminster councillor Ian Hall. Picture EDDCAxminster councillor Ian Hall. Picture EDDC

Top level talks are taking place in a bid to salvage the masterplan for Axminster’s urban extension.

The blueprint for 850 new homes and an inner relief road on the town’s eastern flank has been put in jeopardy by a switch in government funding.

In a dramatic u-turn Homes England has withdrawn a £10million grant towards the bypass and says it can now only be offered as a loan.

District councillors say the policy change means developers will have to repay the cost of the relief road out of profits from new housing developments – which would almost certainly render the proposed masterplan jigsaw unaffordable.

And they have called the decision by Homes England a ‘devastating betrayal’.

Last week Axminster district and county councillor Ian Hall travelled to Westminster for urgent talks with the town’s MP Neil Parish and Homes England.

He told The Herald: “Neil Parish and I had a very productive meeting with the top officials from Homes England and discussed all the potential ramifications with any change of direction from the agreed masterplan for Axminster and, furthermore, the whole of East Devon.

“I personally feel that the meeting was very worthwhile and we will be putting together a second round of talks for April 2 which will again be in Westminster.

“I will be looking for officers from both EDDC and DCC to attend the meeting as this will be crucial for us to have the necessary skills and experience to get the scheme back on track for the benefit of Axminster for a resilient community for now and the future.

“I would like to thank our MP for literally dropping half his diary after our ‘honest conversation’ last Saturday.

“Not only did Neil Parish arrange a meeting with Kit Malthouse MP, who is the Housing Minister, he subsequently arranged our meeting on Thursday that covered an incredible amount of detail that has achieved a lot of mutual understanding from both ends of the telescope.

“I would also like to add that my employer has been so incredibly supportive and understanding to allow me the necessary time off work.”

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