80 new homes to be built in Exeter despite two refusals and hundreds of objections

-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)

A planning application to build 80 homes on the outskirts of Exeter is being progressed after winning an appeal. Prior to the appeal, the proposals had already been rejected twice and amassed more than 300 public objections.

The application was originally submitted by Devon-based developer ALD Developments Limited in October 2020. It proposed 80 new homes between Exwick Lane and Redhills, which would each have two to four bedrooms, a garden and parking, with 28 properties to be classed as "affordable".

The plans also included three play areas, a new footpath into the site and the removal of a section of hedgerow fronting Redhills to allow access to the road. In June 2021, Exeter City Council's planning committee refused the plans over concerns the development would have a harmful impact on the landscape character of the area.

By the end of July 2021, the application had received 328 objections, and 101 supporting comments. In September 2021, Exeter City Council's planning officers turned down a resubmitted version of the application and did not put it before the planning committee. Once again, they said it would have a "significant impact on the rural character of the area and landscape setting of the city".

⚠️ Want the latest Devon breaking news and top stories first? Click here to join our WhatsApp group . We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice ⚠️

They added: "Insufficient ecological mitigation justification has been submitted to outweigh the significant harm to the wildlife and biodiversity as a result of the loss of a substantial section of hedgebank fronting onto Redhills and Exwick Lane."

ALD Developments appealed this decision via The Planning Inspectorate. In their statement of case, the developers claimed the original application was referred to the planning committee because of a "high level of interest and support for the proposals" and because council leader Phil Bialyk sat on the committee and "had recently moved to a house adjacent to the proposed access road in close proximity to the appeal site".

They went on to say: "The Council’s landscape ground for refusal rests upon the specific allegations that the appeal proposals would have a significant impact on the rural character of the area and landscape setting of the city.

"The proposed development will of course result in some change. However, this is inevitable on any greenfield site. The appeal site lies on land outside but directly adjacent to the development limits of Exeter.

"The appeal site is surrounded by roads and existing residential development and would represent a modest extension to the settlement edge of Exeter in an extensive area of land identified as ‘landscape setting’ which stretches across the northern edge of Exeter."

They also say that the council's planning officer had accepted the findings of a report which monitored dormice and bats prior to the application being considered by the committee. In the appeal, they say: "The report concluded that whilst the development has the potential to impact on protected species suitable avoidance and mitigation measures have been incorporated into the design to minimise adverse impact on protected species."

The Planning Inspectorate decided to allow the appeal and, in February 2022, the application was granted planning permission. In April this year, it was confirmed that Tilia Homes had secured a deal and would be taking over the site.

Simon Perks, Regional Managing Director for Tilia Homes Western, said: "We recognise that Devon has specific housing needs and so we are delighted to have acquired this piece of land as it is in a prime location, where we have no doubt a thriving new community will be born.

"We believe in building the right homes in the right place and this acquisition strengthens our position in Exeter, and gives prospective buyers further options as we aim to provide homes that will complement those we are already building at our new Alphington site."

Tilia Homes has now submitted a reserved matters application, which confirms further details of the development. Homes will each have two to four bedrooms and will be two to three storeys in height. Most of the homes will have parking provision, with 95 hardstanding allocated spaces, 26 garages and 12 unallocated spaces.

If the application is approved, Tilia Homes says it plans to begin building work towards the end of this year or in early 2025. They anticipate making their first sales in spring 2025.