An £80million vision to redevelop the 86-acre estate and stately home at Winslade Park in Clyst St Mary is being recommended for approval.

Burrington Estates’ plans for the site on the edge of Exeter seek to provide a modern mixed-use campus of office and employment facilities in a parkland setting with associated residential development and on-site recreational facilities.

Outline permission for up to 94 residential units split over two parts of the site, improved sport pitches for football and cricket, tennis courts and provision of parkland recreation routes have been asked for.

A full application seeks permission for of high quality, multi-let office space for Winslade Manor and Winslade House, an extension to Brook House for employment use and an extension to the leisure facilities to create improved facilities including a new gym, spa facilities and beauty salons, and a restaurant/café and high end business club.

Community services such as a nursery, pet care, dry cleaning, small grocery and newspaper store are also planned to be created.

East Devon District Council’s planning committee, when they meet next Wednesday (December 2), are recommended to give the scheme the go ahead, despite opposition from local residents and parish councils and that the scheme would be a departure from the Local Plan.

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In the recommendation for approval, the report says: “The proposal represents a comprehensive development that seeks to retain the majority of the employment buildings on site, whilst erecting new residential development, some of which is on greenfield land, and enhancing the existing sports pitches, sports pavilion and swimming pool/leisure building.

“To accommodate the housing and retain the employment buildings, the proposal includes development on greenfield land that is not in accordance with the allocation the EDDC Local Plan

“In Economic Development terms, the importance of the transformation being proposed at Winslade Park cannot be underestimated. We are presented with one of the most significant prospects for improved employment opportunity and local economic benefit that our district has seen in recent years. Some of the particular challenges and opportunities our district economy currently faces will be met through the proposed development of this allocated site.

How the redevelopment of Winslade Park could look like

“These include our pressing requirement for more skilled employment exacerbated by the recent loss of FlyBe and almost 1,000 of the most skilled roles we could least afford to lose; the need to improve our sustainability through increased levels of self-containment; the chance to secure increased inward investment and provide the right environment for indigenous businesses to grow and improve local prosperity

“The proposed development can be seen to have a significant economic benefits that weigh in favour of the proposal, it is considered that there would be significant social benefits to the local community through this proposal.

“It is proposed to allow the local community to have use of the enhanced sports pitches, cricket pavilion, changing rooms/toilets and parkland with recreation routes together with access by primary school children to all of these facilities and the upgraded swimming pool.”

Winslade Park Redevelopment - Pictured (left to right): Paul Scantlebury, Co-Founder, Mark Edworthy, Co-Founder and Group Managing Director and Peter Quincey, Development Director
Winslade Park Redevelopment – Pictured (left to right): Paul Scantlebury, Co-Founder, Mark Edworthy, Co-Founder and Group Managing Director and Peter Quincey, Development Director

But the report says that there would be environmental impacts if the proposals went ahead, saying: “The use of unallocated greenfield land to provide housing where it is in agricultural use and can contribute towards the nation’s food supply is a dis-benefit of the proposal. Increasing the development on site by not demolishing the employment buildings would in turn increase the level of traffic entering and leaving the site on a daily basis together with an increase in pollution from the private motor vehicles.

“The proposal has been found to have an impact on the setting of a grade II* listed building and other designated heritage assets which are afforded special protection and a further dis-benefit of the proposal is the expansion of Zone J car parking into the flood zone and loss of associated vegetation.”

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However, it adds: “There are also environmental benefits to the scheme. Firstly, the retention of the majority of the employment buildings has the benefit of retaining all of the embodied carbon within the buildings, the allocation for the site envisages the demolition of the non-listed buildings to make way for housing. Secondly, the proposal seeks to bring the heritage assets back into an active use and preserves their historic character for future generations to experience and enjoy.

“And while the application proposed residential development on a greenfield site, the site for the proposed housing is in itself well located close to the wider allocation and development at Clyst St. Mary such that its location will minimise the use of the car and be fairly environmentally sustainable.”

It concludes: “The overriding benefits of the proposal through providing a wealth of employment opportunities to keep pace with the housing growth that has taken place over recent years, employment provision that is likely to attract skilled workers which would help grow the local economy.

“Together with bringing back into use of heritage assets that have been redundant for a number of years, and providing enhanced sports and leisure facilities to the local community and primary school, the benefits are considered to outweigh any harm caused by the proposal and outweighs the fact that the proposal represents a departure from local plan policy.”

But Gaeron Kayley, chairman of the Save Clyst St Mary Residents’ Association, said that the villagers at Clyst St Mary were disappointed after reading the planning report and that the plans have been recommended for approval.

Previous flooding in and around the Winslade Park site
Previous flooding in and around the Winslade Park site

In an open letter, he said: “The applicants have opted to submit a hybrid application, which is very difficult to determine because it combines a full application for the refurbishment and re-development of the redundant offices, which is fundamentally supported by the majority of residents.

“But it also incorporates inappropriate, outline new residential development proposals that are unacceptable to so many in this small village community. This leaves planners and decision makers with the burdensome task of either refusing acceptable proposals or supporting incongruous, unsuitable elements within the same application.

“This is considered a manipulation of planning procedures and two separate applications should have been submitted for such a vast developmental masterplan.

“The planning officer’s own report, before members, states that this application represents a substantial departure from the Local Development Plan and is contrary to the views of the Ward Member and the Parish Council. The public perception is that copious amounts of public money and substantial time have been expended preparing and adopting development plans that are now being ignored.

“It appears that greater weight is being afforded to the economic factors within this application, which is proving detrimental to the historic, social and environmental elements, when the National Planning Policy Framework recommends a balance for sustainability purposes.

“There are still major concerns with traffic from 94 more homes, visitors, services and sports etc which together with the employment use will completely consume and overwhelm the capacity of the local highway network at peak times in an area which already suffers with major gridlock.

Traffic queues around Clyst St Mary
Traffic queues around Clyst St Mary

“The development site is not well located in terms of sustainable transport and performs poorly in respect of modes of sustainable transport and no provision to improve public transport to directly serve the site has been provided.

“Heavy volumes of traffic at peak times on the A3052 and A376 cause daily congestion around the Clyst St Mary roundabout, resulting in complete gridlock which leads to an unacceptable number of vehicles using the nearby residential roads, in particular Winslade Park Avenue, in an attempt to bypass the roundabout.

“The applicants purchased this complicated site with a full awareness of the planning history and environmental limitations and their comments that the whole development will fail and not be financially viable without the residential elements are unconvincing and equate to requesting planners to ignore planning policy.

“This is not an urban environment and this exceptional, distinctive, historic landscape deserves a quality approach rather than one displaying quantity to safeguard and truly enhance this small, rural East Devon village. We, therefore, request that this inappropriate hybrid application is refused.”

Winslade Park in Clyst St Mary

When the proposals were initially unveiled, developers said that 1,000 new jobs could be created by the scheme and that it would bring the iconic stately home and park back to life for a new era.

The property has sat empty for six years since Friends Life’s departure, but the site has a chequered history with development proposals, with campaign group Save Clyst St Mary from Inappropriate Development concerned against previous housing plans for the site.

A 2014 scheme that would have seen the demolition of Brook House and Clyst House and the creation of 217 new homes, commercial floorspace, together and sports facilities was rejected by East Devon District Council in May 2016.

A second application, which would see 150 homes built, 0.7 hectares of employment land created was submitted in November 2016 and is still awaiting determination.

It was due to go before planners in October 2017 but was withdrawn from the agenda so further discussions over flooding risk could take place.

East Devon District Council’s planning committee will consider the plans when they meet next Wednesday, with a recommendation of approval from officers.





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