PLANS to build holiday lodges on a picturesque site at Mamhead have been overwhelmingly rejected by councillors.

Teignbridge Council’s planning committee voted nine to one against the bid to site 14 lodges on land at Obelisk Gardens which had attracted widespread opposition.

Planning officers had recommended conditional approval for the single storey timber lodges although admitting it was ‘finely balanced’ and ‘complex’.

It was described as a ‘relatively small scale scheme’ which aimed to provide year round tourist accommodation.

The bid had already been reduced from 24 lodges on the land to 14 following ‘significant concerns’ from Historic England.

Speaking to the committee on behalf of more than 60 objectors and representing the ‘local community’, Torbay Hospital consultant Mark Gilchrist explained he and his family live very close to the application site.

He said there had been no ‘prior meetings’ to consult with neighbours

He said: ‘There are 67 objections to this from the local community and they are unanimous.

‘There is no support for this.

‘There are real concerns about traffic and access to the site and the traffic survey was carried out in February 2021 during the Covid lockdown and is not reliable.’

He further pointed out that the existing holiday cottages had just a one out of five rating on Trip Advisor with customers describing them as being in a ‘chronic state of disrepair’.

He claimed Teignbridge Council had been presented with ‘errors and baseless assumptions’ as part of the application.

Residents had expressed concerns about the ongoing management although planning officers explained site management would be a condition to approval.

Applicant Diana Nyiry told the committee she had lived at the Grade II listed Magnolia Cottage, which is south of the three hectare site, since 2007 but had lived in Mamhead for more than 30 years.

Since the death of her husband, she and her son had set about making improvements including the current holiday letting business.

She said that ’11 years later, it is a success, attracting the 50 plus age group and our guests enjoy the countryside. ‘The cottages have proved very popular despite what has been said.

‘We have planted shrubs and trees, keep bees and now want to add luxury lodges, create a focal point and in no way would this blight the view. It would provide a valuable addition to the area.’

Cllr Jackie Hook agreed the decision was ‘finely balanced’. She said: ‘There is harm and there is benefit, it’s how you weigh that up. We want to encourage domestic tourism. There is a massive lack of affordable and rented accommodation in rural and coastal towns.

‘This will create a small number of jobs although there is some discussion about whether this has been over estimated.’

Cllr Sylvia Russell said the roads were ‘very narrow’ and would be ‘unfamiliar’ to visitors.

She said: ‘The residents’ concerns are valid and should be taken into account.’

Cllr Mary Colclough said: ‘I am not against creating a caravan site and encouraging tourism.

‘But there are places to put them and I am not sure this is the right one.

‘Access could be troublesome.’

The site was previously used as a plant nursery and is currently occupied by several derelict greenhouses along with three existing holiday lets and the applicant’s home.

Planning officers had said the proposal improved the site, removing ‘unsightly structures’, and would support an existing business.

But critics objected to the scale, effect on the landscape, traffic, out of keeping with the historic area and detrimental to wildlife.