Bideford homes get the go-ahead but no £5m centre
By North Devon Journal | Thursday, January 24, 2013, 07:31
APPROVAL has been given to a housing development in Bideford, despite the scheme not including a much sought after community centre.
Torridge District Council’s planning committee made the decision on the Moreton Park site at a meeting on Thursday. (January 17)
The planning application from housing developer Redrow shows plans for 232 homes, a 59 unit care home and public open space.
Initially the application also included a £5 million community centre, known as the Bridge Centre, which would have been run by Bideford charity Wings South West.
The community centre would have included a community shop, sports facility and conference centre. But last year the application was submitted without this element.
Redrow said it had been advised by the council’s planning department that the community centre was not viable and the application would not be granted with it included.
The application first went before the plans committee in December, when councillors decided to defer making a decision so a site visit could be arranged.
Following a site visit last weekyesterday councillors were encouraged today to approve the application by planning officers who said negotiations were continuing with Wings and Redrow on plans for the Bridge Centre.
Planning manager David Green (corr) said the hope was it would become a staggered process, with a separate application for outline planning permission for the Bridge Centre to be included later.
He said: “The developer wants to develop the site and contribute towards the sports facility and the Wings centre. We think that can happen and we are in discussions. If we approve it we can continue to negotiate with Wings.”
Ken Miles, (corr) the council’s solicitor, said: “If it goes to appeal I’m not so sure the inspector would uphold this and you would lose the chance of having the facility altogether.”
But not all the councillors were convinced.
Councillor Chris Leather (corr) proposed to refuse the application on the grounds that, if it was approved, then no more efforts would be made to further the Bridge Centre project.
He said: “It is just the wrong way round. It should be that we have the Wings centre first and, if not, then we have the play area.
“It is about time this council started being proactive.
“A lot of aspirations have not been met by this council and this is a chance to do it.”
Councillor Kathy Murdoch (corr) seconded Mr Leather’s proposal but a majority of six councillors voted for approval.
After the application Paul Bowser, (corr) from Wings, said: “Yes we have been in discussions.
“I think now the onus is on us to make sure that happens and the officers need to uphold what they said at the meeting.
“I am not disappointed, I am hopeful that now we can have an outline planning application for the centre put together in the next few weeks so that it can be heard at the March plans committee.”
Following the planning meeting at Torridge District Council, Lee Hawker, Land Director for Redrow Homes, stated that he was extremely pleased that Members resolved to approve Redrow’s scheme in line with their Officers Recommendation.
“We hope to commence building this spring, with development taking four years to complete. We are currently liaising with the Council's legal department in order to finalise the Heads of Terms relating to the s106 Legal Agreement between Redrow and Torridge. This s106 will allow maximum flexibility in order to ensure that the land can accommodate any future planning application, for the Wings facility or any alternative community centre. Redrow is also committed to providing Wings with any assistance it requires in preparing its application.
“We look forward to the getting to the stage where we can sign the final agreement which will trigger the release of the residential permission allowing us to deliver much needed quality family housing to Bideford.”