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Now fabric factory raises concern over homes plan

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: September 18, 2012

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PROPOSALS to build up to 300 new homes in Tiverton have been put on hold for a second time due to concerns about road safety for pedestrians and access to a mill leat which is essential to one of the town's major employers.

The site at Farleigh Meadows has been identified for residential development in the local plan for Mid Devon. The outline plans for the site were first due to be discussed at the beginning of August but were deferred by councillors.

Following a site visit, members of the district council's planning committee decided last Wednesday to defer the matter again to give more time for issues around road and watercourse safety to be discussed.

Heathcoat Fabrics has objected to the scheme which it says does not adequately deal with safety of the historic leat adjacent to the site, which the company draws upon as a water source for its factory operations.

Cameron Harvie, managing director of Heathcoat Fabrics, spoke at a planning meeting last week to repeat the company's concerns.

He explained the significance of a safe and secure leat to the company: "Every day in the factory 3.6million litres of water are drawn from the leat, enough to supply 24,000 people," he said.

"The leat is vital to the continued existence of Heathcoat Fabrics in Tiverton."

The company is concerned about issues of access, possible pollution and risk of fatalities if building goes ahead so close to the leat.

Mr Harvie said it was "disappointing" that Mid Devon District Council had not responded to previous requests from the company to meet and discuss their concerns.

Planning officer Simon Trafford said the council would work with the applicants The Prescott Trust and closely with Heathcoat Fabrics to see if the solutions proposed by the applicants were amenable to the firm.

Tiverton councillor Dennis Knowles said he hoped a satisfactory conclusion could be reached as it would be "disastrous" for the town if anything were to happen to the leat.

Councillors were also worried about road safety.

Councillor Alan Griffiths said: "I am concerned about pedestrian safety on Rackenford Road. Consideration should be given to disabled and elderly people."

He said the road was "not easy to cross" at any time, without further development in the area.

Councillor Linda Holloway said: "In an age when you are encouraging to get our of cars and to cycle and walk instead we are not at the point where members feel this is best that can possibly be achieved and there are not other possible routes available.

"People will always take the shortest route available and not the route indicated on the plan."

Councillor Kevin Wilson proposed that the scheme be deferred to enable further consideration of highways issues.

A site visit had been carried out on the morning of the meeting in the presence of a county council highways engineer.

Members were able to see the proposed location of two uncontrolled crossings at the entrance of Higher Loughborough and another at the bottom of Long Drag.

Mr Trafford said these would not be pelican or zebra crossing but dropped kerbs.

The motion to defer the application succeeded and the matter will return to the committee.

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