Fears new homes proposal could close rail line

By Ellen Grindley in Planning

FEARS?have arisen that the railway line at Dawlish could be closed for months, as plans to build three new houses on the cliff top get the go-ahead were revealed.

Planners are worried that, if the five-bedroom luxury homes are built at La Falaise, in the Old Teignmouth Road, part of the cliffs could crash down on the main London to Penzance line.

The proposed development site is close to the South West Coastal Path and overhangs the railway line, a fact which causes concern to councillors.

Dawlish member Ros Prowse asked the committee to look at the plans because she was mindful about the stability of the cliffs.

She also had concerns about the loss of land and privacy, access, and traffic problems with the site and the proposed build being an overdevelopment.

She said: ‘I don’t believe this scale of development should take place. I have seen a lot of cliff fall away.

‘I am unhappy with the size of the houses. I don’t want us to lose our railway.’

Fellow Dawlish councillor Humphrey Clemens said: ‘I am amazed. The development is too close to the cliff.’

A committee report revealed: ‘The proposed development is likely to have an adverse effect on the landscape character of the coastline and on views from a number of public areas.’

In 2014 the railway line was shut for months after severe storms washed the track away.

Network Rail, which previously objected to the plans, has withdrawn its objection but said: ‘No work should be carried out on the development site that may endanger the safe operation of the railway or the stability of Network Rail’s structures and adjoining land.’

The report added that Network Rail would not accept any liability for disturbance or damage caused to any development by ‘failure of the tunnel structures nor for any noise or vibration arising from the normal use of the tunnel.’

Teignbridge Council has received 31 letters of objection from residents worried about the current state of the cliff.

They shared councillors’ anxieties about a potential landslide or collapse.

Other correspondents were concerned about noise and dust pollution, the houses being too big as well as overdevelopment and construction vehicles causing congestion.

The committee decided not to make a decision on the application until they had visited the site.

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