FUTURE development plans will turn Axminster from a market town into a medium sizedtown with more employment opportunities.
Is this a cause for celebration - or commiseration? It has long been known that Axminster has been earmarked for hundreds of new homes as East Devon District Council strives to achieve government targets for meeting the housing need.
The latest plan for 400 new houses to be built between Sector Lane and Lyme Road has also gone before Axminster Town Council. The council has accepted that the development - to be divided into three separate planning applications - will go ahead in the years to come.
Those of us who can remember Axminster in its heyday as a market time mourn the loss of the special atmosphere that the farming community generated when they came to town once a week.
But those days will never return and Axminster has to look to the future and accept change is inevitable or the town will decline into a backwater. Axminster has a lot going for it. A main line station with a better service in the offing, excellent education facilities, a fine public hall, a swimming pool and good sporting facilities and an enviable community spirit.
The big fear Axminster people have expressed, at the recent annual town meeting, is whether the town’s existing infrastructure will cope with such an explosion in population.
Whilst the plans include a relief road running through the development, there are real concerns about Weycroft Bridge taking even more traffic.
Plans by the developers Persimmon Homes allow for an additional primary school and community centre, which will ease some concerns, but there is still a long way to go to convince many that such expansion is good for Axminster in the long term.
The town council recommended refusal of the outline application due to insufficient detail and Persimmon will present their plans at a public meeting in May.