Decision day looms in Knapp House saga
One of the most significant planning applications in a local authority's history will go before councillors next week.
The development would include a new marina, hotel, medical centre, food store, community hall, retail units and cafe, care home or dementia unit, assisted living units, 295 dwellings, 80 holiday dwellings and play areas.
It has been dubbed by some as an application to build an entirely new town.
Torridge District Council has so far received more than 700 comments on the application – 650 of which are objections to the development of Knapp House, an activity centre in the village of Northam, near Bideford, surrounded by 60 acres of land.
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The application, submitted by developers LTPH Properties, is due to go before the council's planning committee next Thursday, January 17.
Some objectors were hoping planners would deal with the application at a separate meeting due to the sheer size of the proposals.
But the council has confirmed this will not be the case. The plan will be the first item on the agenda.
Opponents are concerned about the alleged lack of jobs the site would create, the adverse effect the site would have on wildlife in the area and the fact the green space would be lost, and an excess of traffic.
Objector Lesley Burgess lives in Westleigh, a village which will be facing the development on the opposite side of the estuary.
She said: "The site is highly visible from the opposite shore at Westleigh, Tapely Park and upstream from Instow.
"This development will radically change a beautiful and familiar rural landscape and urbanise the riverside from Bideford to Appledore. Also, the ancient Shipwrights Path, which is a public right of way from Bideford to Appledore, will be redirected, preventing access to this significant stretch of river.
"The site is in a Coastal Protection Area and is a designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
"The Taw and Torridge Estuary has a Biodiversity Action Plan 'priority habitat' designation due to the mud flats.
"In the Conservation Area character appraisal, Westleigh is described as having some of the finest views across the estuary.
"One would expect the site to be truly protected.
"However, this is the 13th application from the landowner and people are getting tired of it."
Paul Hevingham, a director of LTPH Properties, said: "Since the planning application was submitted to the council back in February 2012 the applicants and their advisers have worked hard with all the statutory consultees and the council to ensure concerns have been dealt with effectively. The development now has the backing of the Environment Agency, Natural England, South West Water and Devon County Council Highways and Education.
"The scheme will provide several hundred permanent new jobs and much-needed construction work in the area.
"It will place Bideford on the map and ensure the Torridge Estuary becomes part of a strategic sea link between the existing ports in North Devon and North Cornwall and beyond.
"The developers urge members of the public to look beyond the 'nimby' argument and consider the wider benefit for them and their families in the future."
The planning committee meeting is due to take place at Bideford Town Hall and will start at 9.30am.