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

At this month’s planning committee meeting, fears were raised that Men in Sheds was ‘starting to encroach’ on Okehampton Community Garden, where the shed is located, and that a larger building could lead to the use of bigger machinery resulting in greater noise pollution and disruption to nearby properties.

A comment to West Devon Borough Council about the proposal noted that the ‘community garden [had been] set up as place of peace and tranquillity for the community and especially for people with mental health problems’ and ‘there were ‘constant complaints already from local neighbours about use of power tools at weekends’.

Councillors also raised concerns that the proposed building would pose a greater fire risk to the community garden’s adjacent wooden structure and that the sewage outlet route was inadequate as it would pass through a field and run close to a children’s play area.

Devon and Cornwall Police also commented on the application, suggesting that there be extra security measures implemented to secure the proposed building. They said: ‘Whilst we have no objections to the proposal in principle...if items or equipment which are deemed of high value are to be stored within the workshop it is recommended that all external doors are to a minimum security standard of PAS24. Valuable equipment and/or tools should be forensically marked, and a record of the asset or serial numbers recorded.

‘It may also be beneficial to consider installing a monitored intruder alarm.’

Phil Bush from Men in Sheds explained that the community group needed the extension as it was very busy, adding: ‘We were very disappointed that we had not had an invitation from the council to attend the meeting about our extension.’

Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council will discuss the application at the next meeting which is set for May 16. However, neither Okehampton Town Council not Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council can approve or reject a planning application. It will be West Devon Borough Council that has the final decision on whether to approve or reject the proposal though it will take the town council’s and Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council’s comments into consideration during the decision-making process.

Men in Sheds has played a particularly important role in the Okehampton community and provided support to many community projects, including building a children’s reading den in the library and working with vulnerable women at Gilead Foundations to improve the outside facilities.

Currently the group is working with Who Let The Dads Out? to build a go-kart for the Bideford Soapbox Derby which will take place in June.