The general principles of a plan to build 820 new homes in Landkey on the outskirts of Barnstaple has been approved by North Devon Council, writes Joe Ives, Local Democracy Reporter.

The outline application, about how the site should generally be developed, was passed by the council’s planning committee.

Although construction isn’t expected to start for at least another year, after that around 80 houses per year could be built, taking up to 11 years to complete.

The development by East Midlands company Barwood Land will include at least 82 affordable homes, with a potential for up to 25 more. It will include a new primary school and community hub and is believed it could create between 600 to 650 new jobs around Barnstaple.

Because of the increased population living in the new homes, Barnstaple is expected to have 1,800 new patients relying on health services. With all four of the town’s NHS practices already too small to meet existing needs, Progress Land has agreed to pay £300,000 to support the NHS in the area. The money will either be spent on expanding the four existing practices or go towards a new facility.

However, concerns remain about the lack of a confirmed secondary link road to the homes. An application for a road through neighbouring Westacott Park was stopped by the council last month following an outcry from local residents. Some nearby residents fear a build up traffic in the area that will lead to the 820 new home becoming a cul-de-sac.

Councillor Malcolm Prowse (Independent, Bratton Fleming Ward) described the lack of a link road as a “tragedy.” He said: It ain’t gonna work – we have got to sort out sustainable links for this site to the rest of Barnstaple.”

He argued the public would criticise the council for not insisting on more affordable housing in the plans, a concern shared by several members of the planning committee. 

However, in a reflection of just how important the project is perceived, the outline application was approved unanimously by the committee despite these worries. They believe the new homes are essential for meeting the council’s five-year land housing supply targets. Planning officer Jean Watkins described the potential ramifications of denying planning permission in one word: “catastrophic.”

As a result, the council decided to approve the project despite being unsure of what, if any, secondary access road can be delivered. Time is on their side. It will be four to five years until a secondary access road will be needed.

On the brighter side, officers are confident that two additional bus services, as well as footpath and cycle routes, can be delivered, as well as a primary access route through addition to a new roundabout on the North Devon link road at Landkey.