Anger over developer's 'insensitive victory flags'
Developers who won an appeal over a controversial housing development in a Westcountry town have been criticised for flying "victory flags" on the site.
Redrow Homes South West had its outline planning application for 130 homes in Ottery St Mary turned down in April 2012.
But in December a planning inspectorate overturned East Devon District Council's objection to the development on fields east of Butts Road, saying there was not enough other land to meet building targets.
Now the developer has installed several large flagpoles, and prominent advertising boards, all with Redrow branding, in full view of the town.
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Residents, who lost a long-fought battle against the scheme, branded the display as "victory flags". East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Roger Giles described the move as "grossly insensitive". Fellow district councillor Claire Wright called the move "a gesture of gloating".
She said: "They are using the flags to advertise their housing scheme, but didn't apply for planning permission."
It was also understood Redrow had withdrawn an offer to transfer ownership of allotments within the development to the town council. Mr Giles called the action "deplorable behaviour".
He said: "The offer was a key element of demonstrating that Redrow were providing community benefit, and of the case to approve the planning permission.
"Now that planning approval has been obtained, the offer has been withdrawn."
East Devon District Council said the issue of land supply was a "key element" of its emerging local plan which outlines where around 17,000 houses can be built across the district between 2006 and 2026.
Despite the existence of a large housing allocation at Cranbrook, the inspector doubted enough homes would be completed soon enough to satisfy the need for housing across East Devon.
The East Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England had urged the council to reduce the number of houses in its local plan, claiming the authority was using out-of-date figures.
A council spokesman said the developer should have applied for planning permission before installing the flags.
He said: "Due to planning restrictions in this part of the district, the developers will need to obtain advertisement consent whenever any signage or flags are put up.
"We will be contacting Redrow Homes and informing them of the requirement for advertisement consent."
Barry Stiles, regional director for Redrow Homes, said: "Redrow Homes erects flags and signage at all forthcoming development sites across the South West. We acknowledge that planning permission should have been sought in the first instance and this will be rectified with a retrospective application."
He added that the developer would "honour" its pledge to lease allotment land to the town council.