Plans to build up to 70 homes on farmland on the southern edge of Woodbury in East Devon have been approved.
Since the application was outline only, more concrete plans including exactly how many new houses there would be, and what they would look like, must be put forward later.
Fears about the development’s impact on the sewage system, and therefore a potential increase in raw sewage discharges, led councillors to put the plans on hold last month to ask the Environment Agency (EA) and South West Water (SWW) again whether they had any pollution-related objections.
Having received no reply, and with the EA saying it would not change its position that it doesn’t object, council officers suggested imposing a condition on the developer to draw up a sewage management scheme before putting forward further plans “to ensure that the network as a whole is not overloaded as a result of the development.”
East Devon District Council principal planning officer Gavin Spiller explained how this method could help the council get more information and evidence than further consultations would.
Satisfied, councillors granted permission with this condition and several others, including having a pedestrian crossing and two bus stops.
Speaking about SWW’s failure to respond, Cllr Eileen Wragg (Lib Dem, Exmouth Town) said: “It is disappointing that this council did not have a reply from South West Water, but again, are we surprised?
“No, we’re not. I think it’s deplorable, frankly.”
Cllr Mike Howe (Independent, Clyst Valley) expressed his dismay at raw sewage discharges.
He said: “It is unacceptable for raw sewage in this day and age to be regularly flooding footpaths, footways and anything else in our communities. Full stop.
“We cannot allow development to happen where we are going back to the 1800s, where you just throw it out in the street.”
Members of the public and Woodbury Parish Council also objected, expressing concerns about road safety and infrastructure.