In a win for Okehampton’s Men in Sheds, Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council agreed to support the planning application for a larger shed last week (May 17).

The planning application, which has received criticism from some of the town’s residents, was supported by Hamlets councillors after hearing from Men in Shed’s Phil Bush who explained that the growing number of members and ever-increasing community work had necessitated the need for an extension.

Councillors agreed that Men in Sheds played a vital role in the community and would therefore support the application.

Cllr Andy Ewen said: ‘Whatever you do, you’ll always get people opposing you, but I think we should support it.’

At the meeting, Mr Bush also addressed several concerns raised by some of Okehampton’s residents, including noise pollution and problem parking.

He explained that the current shed was too small to provide the members with enough space to work, so were forced to move outside in sunny weather.

He added that he was aware that members sometimes needed to park outside the designated parking area but this was due to muddy ground in winter months when it would be difficult to park on the grass parking area by the community garden.

On hearing of the Hamlets’ support, Mr Bush expressed his great pleasure. He said: ‘We are ever so pleased. The Hamlets council have been 100 percent thumbs up. It was yes, yes, yes and Cllr Andy Ewen has been very supportive.’

Okehampton Town Council objected to the Men in Sheds application for a shed upgrade earlier this month citing concerns about noise levels, invasion of privacy and environmental impact of the proposed work.

Residents have slammed town councillors for the decision after they raised fears that Men in Sheds was ‘starting to encroach’ on Okehampton Community Garden, where the shed is located.

At the town council planning committee meeting, several raised concerns that a larger building could lead to the use of bigger machinery resulting in greater noise pollution and disruption to nearby properties.

However Okehampton Hamlets Parish chairman Brian Wood, commented that he had spoken to the architect who had assured him that the new shed would have better sound-proofing.

Men in Sheds has been praised by many residents for all the good work it does for the community.

In the past, the men’s community group has constructed a reading den to provide children visiting Okehampton Library with a private space to read.

It has also helped women’s refuge charity Gilead improve its garden facilities by building planters and helping to create an outdoor patio space for residents.

Most recently, Men in Sheds has been working alongside Who Let The Dads Out?, another men’s social group, to build a go-kart for this year’s Bideford Soapbox Derby which is set to take place next month.

Men in Sheds is a group for retired men to provide a chance to socialise with others after leaving work.