Developers fighting for permission to build new village on edge of Torbay
- Credit: Stride Treglown
Plans for a new village between Paignton and Brixham are due to be decided by a Government inspector.
An appeal by the developers behind the scheme known as Inglewood is to be considered at a public inquiry starting on Tuesday, January 12.
The hearing, held remotely over the internet, is expected to last for eight days.
The developer submitted the appeal because Torbay Council failed to reach a decision by a deadline at the end of July 2019 as set out under planning law.
The council’s planning committee later gave an indicative decision against the scheme, and the authority is defending the appeal.
The proposals from developers Abacus Projects and Deeley Freed Estates for 70 acres of open land south of White Rock, alongside Brixham Road, were first put forward in 2017, and amended in March 2018.
The scheme is for up to 373 homes, with 112 designated as 'affordable', and includes a pub, primary school and public open spaces with play areas and allotments, and improvements to local habitats for the protected rare cirl bunting birds and greater horseshoe bats.
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The planning committee decided the scheme was in conflict with the Brixham Peninsula Neighbourhood Plan, which designated the land as a Development Gap to be left as undeveloped open space between Paignton and Brixham.
Councillors also ruled the development would cause unacceptable damage to the landscape and views in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Hundreds of objections have been submitted by members of the public and local organisations, including Brixham Town Council.
The developers say the new homes would go a long way to make up for a shortage of accommodation in Torbay, especially by delivering more than 100 units of affordable housing.
They say the benefits of the development would significantly outweigh any harm, with road improvements and landscaping measures to minimise its visual impact.
One of the central issues to be considered at the inquiry is a shortage of sites for new homes in Torbay, which means the council cannot show a five-year supply to meet Government housebuilding targets.
That can tip the planning balance in favour of developers if there are too few new homes in the pipeline.
But if the council can show a three-year supply, that is enough to bring into force any protections in a neighbourhood plan.
Opponents of the Inglewood scheme say that is the case with the Brixham Peninsula Neighbourhood Plan, which was adopted after a local referendum in May 2019, and forms part of the local planning framework.
The council has stated it had a two-and-a-half year land supply at April 2019, and a three-year supply at April 2020.
But the developers are arguing that the numbers are well below the council’s stated position, which means the protection from the policies in the neighbourhood plan do not apply as the supply is below the three-year threshold.
They say that means under planning law the decision should be made with a 'tilted balance' in favour of approving its plans.