A DERELICT eyesore in the heart of Newton Abbot could at last have a brighter future after the Town Council offered no objections to a scheme for 38 apartments and flexible retail space.
The former Seymour Howell car dealership site in Wolborough Street has been empty for 17 years.
It has become an overgrown wasteland and was unlawfully occupied by a caravan dweller.
Now, Newton Abbot Developments Ltd has submitted plans for a four-storey building which, if approved by Teignbridge District Council (TDC), would transform a blighted gateway to the town centre.
The firm said its 38 one and two bedroom apartments were ‘aimed at the retirement market’ and that the ground floor units would suit a number of uses.
The scheme differs from an earlier one which gained planning permission by increasing the number of flats but within a smaller footprint.
In its application, it said: ‘The design responds to local character and context of the built setting so that layout, scale, form, massing, height, density, colour, materials, detailing and impact on the built and natural heritage are all successfully addressed.’
A key consideration among Town Councillors was the scheme’s impact on the historic St Leonard’s Tower.
The firm said: ‘The prominence of the clock tower building is respected throughout and will remain the dominant form on the skyline.’
It added: ‘The proposed development will ensure the beneficial use of the site, improving community safety and surveillance and bringing life back to the street scene.’
Heritage expert Rhiannon Rhys at Historic England said St Leonard’s Tower would ‘retain a level of prominence within the streetscape’ and added: ‘The new building will also provide a sense of enclosure and finality to the varied street scape, “bookending” Wolborough Street and better framing the views.’
Welcoming the Town Council’s position, Town Development Manager Sally Henley said: ‘This derelict site is a high priority for the town and my personal view is that the proposed building will complete the gateway to our town.
‘Hopefully TDC will be happy with the changes, which they requested to the originally approved plan.
‘A developer will only be interested in buying this land from the current private owners if it comes with planning permission in place.
‘Should they reject this application there is a real possibility that we might be looking at this eyesore for another decade.’
The above image is from the applicant’s submission, reference number 22/00579/MAJ, which can be viewed on the Teignbridge District Council website.
Newton Abbot Town Council’s Planning Committee considered the application at its meeting on November 21. As a statutory consultee in the planning process, it cannot ‘support’ any application but is limited to offering ‘no objection’ or objecting because of concerns that a scheme does not accord with planning policy.