Changes to workhouse site plan create dissent
TOWN councillors have accused a local developer of seeing how far it can get in revising plans for Tiverton's former workhouse before meeting opposition.
The planning committee felt that Devonshire Homes was seeking to gauge its "resolve" when presenting proposals to change the scheme for housing on the Belmont Hospital site.
If members did not resist changes from the outset, the floodgates could be opened for the scheme, as originally approved, to be substantially altered.
Plans to create 76 homes on the 1.4-hectare site were approved four years ago, but proposals to provide five additional residential units to replace three units previously agreed would result in more efficient use of the space, says the developer.
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However, the planning committee, meeting on Monday, March 4, said it feared a chipping-away of the original proposals, similar to that which had happened with the currently under-construction Tiverton and District Hospital site, William Street.
Councillors voted to recommend refusal of Devonshire Homes' application as it felt it would have an adverse impact on the adjacent listed building.
The councillors also expressed concerns about the appearance of the proposed dwellings and the mix of housing.
Devonshire Homes says its plans are for a "sensitive design in keeping with the previously-approved housing" but this was disputed by members who said they did not like the look of the proposed new units.
Cllr Elaine Trump, who chairs the committee, said: "This could open the floodgates for lots of little changes to the previously agreed scheme."
The partial revision of the scheme has also caused concern among supporters of an nearby NHS residential care facility for children and young people with learning or physical disabilities.
Writing on behalf of NHS Devon Integrated Children's Services, Henry Tobin objected to the proposed changes to the planning application on the basis that it would have a detrimental effect on the NHS Barnes short breaks unit in Belmont Road.
In a letter to planners, Mr Tobin said he was concerned about the lack of privacy for those staying at Barnes because of the potential overlooking of some bedrooms and the rear garden of the facility, vehicle access arrangements and the odour and pest nuisance associated with a bin store which the developer had located close to the unit.
Steve Russell, land and planning director at Devonshire Homes, said: "The proposed amendments to the original proposal reflect the changes in the housing market that have significantly altered since 2008, when the first plans were submitted.
"The decision to replace three-storey units with two-and three-bedroom properties meets the current demand for smaller family homes.
"It should be noted that the revised buildings will form a lower two-storey profile than the original plans," added Mr Russell.