Builder could have to tear down brick wall

By Steve Peacock in Local People

A developer could be forced to tear down a 100-yard section of prominent red brick wall which was put up without planning permission on a gateway route into Totnes.

The wall was built as part of Bloor Homes’ Meadow­side development of 65 homes on Ashburton Road which were completed last year.

For the last six months, Dartington district councillor Jacqi Hodgson has been demanding South Hams District Council takes action over the wall she has condemned as a “red brick monstrosity”.

This week, the council admitted the wall is in breach of “planning control” and that enforcement officers were in talks with Bloor Homes and the county council over it.

Cllr Hodgson said she raised the alarm when Bloor homes started to build the wall last summer but no action was taken to stop the work.

She said: “The alarm about this part of the new development was raised over a year ago when a number of trees along this bank were felled, and members of the public quite rightly became concerned and contacted me.

“An officer checked what had been felled and the plans were checked carefully and we were assured that new trees would be planted along this bank once a retaining wall to support the wider footpath and cyclepath had been built.

“I continued to keep any eye on progress and that block retaining wall built into the bank, below the pavement level, was duly built.

“However, the new tree-lined hedgerow bank failed to be planted. Instead this awful suburban-style red brick monstrosity appeared last June, restricting the cycle path and dramatically changing the character of this rural approach to Totnes.”

She warned the ultimate sanction would be to order Bloor Homes to tear the wall down. And she added: “I think that is what should happen and it should be replanted with trees.”

The Bloor Homes development on the edge of Totnes is just over the parish boundary in Dartington, opposite Puddaven, alongside one of the busiest main roads in and out of the town.

Cllr Hodgson said the only plans for a wall in the plans for the building project were for a retaining wall which has been built behind the 18ins-wide wall fronting the main road.

She added: “It seems that someone has made a very expensive mistake. Since then I have made further requests for this to be checked and it has finally been confirmed that no planning record exists for this wall. Yet still it stands.

“It is outrageous that Bloor Homes has so far been allowed to get away with such a major error.”

A council spokesman said: “A planning enforcement case has been opened in relation to the wall at Meadowside which is in breach of planning control.

“Enforcement officers are investigating the case in further detail and are currently liaising with the developer Bloor Homes and Devon County Council, as the highways authority, to resolve this matter.”

Cllr Hodgson protested: “How can the public trust and have faith in our planning system when agreements reached that allow a development to go ahead can then be revised behind closed doors and without any reference to the public or their elected representatives.

“In this case they have gone much further and not only built a wall without any plans but also adorned it with their advertising materials. Developers need to be held to account if the public are to retain any real say in their local area.”

A Bloor Homes South West spokesman said: “We are currently in discussions with South Hams District Council and Devon County Council regarding the wall at our Meadowside development and are working to bring the matter to a positive conclusion as soon as possible.”

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