Equine sanctuary fears over homes plan
A HORSE and pony rescue charity says controversial plans for new homes on the outskirts of Newton Abbot will threaten its work.
The Mare and Foal Sanctuary says an application by Barratt Homes for up to 140 homes at Buckland Barton will have a massive impact on its charitable work in caring for and rehoming unwanted horses and ponies.
It is calling on people to object to the plan, saying: "It will be a sad day if this plan is approved."
But the house-builder has promised to consult with the community fully as part of the usual planning process.
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Barratt Homes is preparing an application for up to 140 homes on 13 acres of undulating greenfield land off Buckland Road, on the edge of Newton Abbot's Buckland estate.
The Mare and Foal Sanctuary's home at Honeysuckle Farm is next to the land with the 16th Century Grade II listed building Buckland Barton located to the north-east of the site.
The sanctuary says the fields earmarked for development and its own land currently serve as a 'natural buffer zone' between town and country. The plan, if approved, could see homes built within 10 metres of its boundary.
The charity's executive director Simon Avery said: "We are calling on as many people as possible to join us in their objections by contacting Teignbridge District Council's planning department with their own concerns before it is too late.
"If plans for a new housing development of this size and scope are given the go-ahead it will be a sad day for all who live in and love the countryside around Devon's Teign Estuary.
"Earlier this year, we raised our own objections to the council's emerging Core Strategy which would allow a portion of the land in question to be used for building new homes; that would have brought any development's borders to within around 135 metres of our boundaries.
"We now learn that Barratt Homes is preparing a planning application to build on a far greater plot than originally allocated, meaning its building site boundary would fall short of our fences by around 10 metres.
"Horses and ponies which come here need rest and recovery, particularly welfare cases which may have undergone highly traumatic experiences in the past.
"Those simply too old, sick or unsuitable for rehoming live at the sanctuary permanently.
"At present, our lovely rural setting here at Honeysuckle Farm offers them the safe and comfortable environment they require.
"It is peaceful and quiet; there are no loud noises or unexpected visitors to startle and scare them.
"The air is fresh and clean, there is little traffic, and the grazing areas are rich with lush grass, hedgerows and trees which also attract a variety of birds, animals and insects as well as wild flowers and foliage.
"All this could change from the moment diggers move into neighbouring fields."
The sanctuary, he said, is the largest of its kind in the South West and is the RSPCA's approved equine rescue centre for the area.
Mr Avery added: "We believe the Teign Estuary and its stunning rural surroundings should be protected.
"The beautiful views they offer and natural habitats they provide for birds, including the cirl nunting and other wildlife, will be lost forever once housing developments are allowed to take them over."
Barratt Exeter's managing director Tim Larner said: "The planning application has been submitted following the identification of a site for future residential development by Teignbridge District Council.
"All affected parties will be fully consulted during the planning process."