A PLANNING application to convert a garage into a hair salon in Okehampton caused debate among town councillors last week as they weighed up the benefits of a new business over traffic safety concerns.

The application (0121/23/FUL) requests permission to turn a double garage on Crediton Road into a hair salon has been met with mixed feelings. 

Although councillors have applauded the opportunity to bring a new business into the town, there are fears that the rear access to the site, which would require vehicles to pass along a steep and narrow road could put pedestrians in serious danger.

The access point in question comes off a track behind the east side of the houses on Limehayes Road, linking Crediton Road to Leaholes Avenue, along which there is a steep sharp bend. Councillors voiced fears that an increase in traffic along this stretch of the track could result in a serious accident as pedestrians also use it as a footpath.

Chair of Okehampton Town Council’s planning committee Tony Leech described the bend as ‘lmost suicidal during winter time’ and that it was ‘concerning’ that the access was through the back of the property rather than through the front. 

Cllr Michael Ireland added that it was ‘a very steep incline’ and the footpath was ‘used by walkers, children and mothers and babies’.

Residents have raised similar concerns, adding that extra traffic along the single track lane could make it more difficult for some residents to access their property and cause traffic hold-ups as vehicles and pedestrians struggle to pass one another.

However, other residents have reacted positively and welcome the possibility of a new business outside the town centre.

Following the discussion, councillors agreed that it would be very difficult to police vehicles entering and exiting the site to ensure the safety of all and agreed to offer a neutral response to the application.

It was agreed that all councillors approved of a new business in town but were very concerned with the proposed access and egress route.

West Devon Borough Council has ultimate authority to grant or refuse planning permission and will discuss the application next, aiming to make a decision by October 18.

To view or comment on a planning application, visit the West Devon Borough Council Planning Portal at www.westdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-applications