Gated Totnes community inquiry opens after double refusal
A public inquiry has opened into £400 million plans for a "gated" community of 100 luxury homes which were turned down twice by planners in Devon.
Campaigners against the controversial Riverside development in Totnes were jubilant when South Hams district council again turned down a planning application last year.
They had objected to a 750-metre-long cul-de-sac road being driven across green fields outside the development zone as the only access route to the new homes.
And they also condemned the number of affordable homes on offer – first set at four then rising to 11 – out of the 100 new houses.
Newton Abbot-based developer Linden Homes appealed the planners' first decision, which it said was "contrary to all the officer advice".
The Planning Inspectorate is now set to rule on the dispute and a three-day enquiry at Totnes Civic Hall begins today.
South Hams Council turned down an original application then also refused an updated second request for permission.
Before the most recent refusal in December, planning officers and county highways experts said there were no grounds to turn the project down, while housing experts said the 11 'for rent' and shared ownership homes was the most the councillors could expect.
Yet despite a warning that a successful appeal could see the council hit by a costs bill running into tens of thousands of pounds, the district councillors said no.
Bridgetown Community Group chairman Tom Maughan said there was a huge amount of money at stake, with each of the 90 or so market value homes overlooking the River Dart likely to sell for around £450,000.