115 new homes approved for South Molton
Plans for 115 new homes in South Molton have been approved.
North Devon Council's planning committee gave its support to the first phase of a hybrid application, which will eventually see 250 homes built on a site to the west of North Road.
The plans were submitted by Linden Homes in July for a site within land to be allocated for development in South Molton's local plan next year.
So far only the first phase of the plans has been approved, along with means of access for the second phase. A new roundabout will be created to allow access into the housing estate.
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The second phase will then see an additional 135 homes built along with a new health centre, which the East Street Surgery will be relocated to.
Case officer Jean Watkins has been working on the plans for 14 years and said they provided a "golden opportunity" to relocate the health centre.
Three public consultations have been held. Some concerns were raised regarding sewerage, drainage, the effect on wildlife and affordable housing levels. Ms Watkins said Linden Homes was not prepared to undertake costly surveys on the site's sewerage network without the applications being approved. It was also mentioned that the amount of money set aside in a so-called Section 106 agreement would depend on the cost of improving the site's drainage system. District councillor Richard Edgell told the committee this would put the council in a position of weakness.
James Isherwood, from walking group Stride, said the plans will have a detrimental effect on South Molton's footpaths. "They will be swallowed up by houses and roads. The public can walk across beautiful green fields and enjoy wildlife. Stride wants Linden Homes to extend and replace these footpaths by creating a nature trail."
Ms Watkins responded: "There is always going to be a challenge managing a multi-functional space. We cannot change the fact you are going to be walking through a housing development."