Exeter zero carbon homes plan rejected

-Credit: (Image: Design Development Chartered Architects)
-Credit: (Image: Design Development Chartered Architects)

Plans for a new development of 18 bungalows on the outskirts of Exeter have been refused. The council's planning department said the proposals would have had too much of an impact on the landscape of the area.

Last year, Truro-based developers Verto Homes applied for planning permission to build 18 bungalows on land west of Church Hill in the Pinhoe area. They proposed four one-bedroom, seven two-bedroom and seven four-bedroom homes, with six to be classed as "affordable".

Planning documents stated that the homes would incorporate "the latest sustainable technologies", designed to make them "zero carbon", such as electric vehicle charging points, solar panels and a smart home heating system.

The development was the second by Verto Homes in the area, having already built 40 zero carbon smart homes on land at the top of nearby Pulling Road. Residents of Pulling Road said that heavy vehicles working on the site had worsened the road surface but the developers said the road was already "in a dilapidated state" prior to the commencement of works. Earlier this year, councillors in Pinhoe confirmed that plans were in place to resurface the road.

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On Friday (July 5), Exeter City Council's planning department refused planning permission for Verto's latest development, which had also amassed 106 public objections. The authority said that the bungalows would "harm the character and local distinctiveness of the hills to the north and northwest of the city".

In the decision notice, they said: "The proposed development would harm the character and local distinctiveness of the hills to the north and northwest of the city, and the landscape setting of the city.

"It would be a piecemeal development with a suburban character on a greenfield site in the designated Landscape Setting area that would be visible from adjoining public routes, and public routes and private spaces within the wider urban area. It would appear incongruous and not in keeping with the rural character of the hillside."

They said that building on the site would lead to "significant harm to biodiversity" due to habitat loss and the impact on protected species, specifically dormice and reptiles.

It was also concluded that the development did not provide "safe and suitable" pedestrian access due to a lack of footways on Church Hill and that proposed alternative routes had poor road surfaces and lighting.