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Torquay historic gardens plans approved

Singleton Gardens, Torquay (Image courtesy: Google Street View)

Councillors claim latest proposals will enhance the area

Developers behind controversial plans for a historic walled garden in Torquay have insisted their proposals are not a ‘Trojan Horse’ for future schemes.

Two previous plans for apartments on Singleton Gardens have been rejected by Torbay Council, with the most recent of them still the subject of an appeal.

Now the planning committee has given the developers the go-ahead for extensions and alterations to the existing home, including knocking down a greenhouse.

OJ Developments says work is needed because the structures they want to remove create a ‘ramshackle appearance’.

But objectors fear the latest plan will pave the way for the return of the  proposal for apartments.

English Heritage, a charity, has described Singleton Gardens as ‘an unusual survivor’, and Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit said the previous proposal left him ‘dumbfounded’.

It thought to be the largest surviving walled garden of its kind.

Torquay Neigbourhood Forum vice-chairman Mike Cowdery said: “This is likely to be a vehicle to reinstate previously refused applications. This should be postponed pending the outcome of the appeal.

“The conservation of the character of Wellswood is essential for the whole of Torquay.”

But architect Dan Metcalfe, appearing on behalf of the developers, told the meeting: “We recognise that there is a lot of local concern, chiefly from the previous applications, but this is a very different proposition.

“It is not a Trojan Horse. It’s a very modest extension. We are retaining the great majority of the character of this walled garden. We want to remove the poor quality elements and we believe these are positive improvements.”

Cllr Adam Billings (Con, Churston with Galmpton) said knocking down the existing extensions could be beneficial, and Cllr Ras Virdee (Lib Dem, St Marychurch) said the new plans could enhance the site.

He went on: “What is there is a horrible 1960s' extension. The greenhouse is really dilapidated and looks beyond repair.”

A report from council planning officers said the proposal was acceptable in principle and would enhance the character of the area.

Members of the planning committee voted unanimously to allow the developers to go ahead, subject to a number of conditions.

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