Plans to build much-needed social and affordable housing on a former football pitch in Axminster in the long term.

Some years ago the land at Millwey Rise was returned to East Devon District Council (EDDC) and is now currently designated as land for council housing.

At the authority’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, 14 July 2021, councillors approved a report recommending the land is reserved for much needed social and truly affordable housing development and a replacement community centre undertaken by the council.

Councillors felt passionately that, in view of the desperate shortage of affordable and council housing in the district, they wanted to set the wheels in motion for the site to be used for its original intended purpose, at the earliest opportunity.

There is currently a well-used and valued community centre, owned and managed by EDDC and allotments, on the site.

This means any future use of the site will need to factor in considerations for the future provision of these essential community facilities and balance the need for housing against competing demands.

The report, which was in the form of a discussion document, was considered by the cabinet who recognised that a range of planning constraints that would need to be overcome as part of any plans coming forward.

Although comments from the local community were gathered some years ago, on the original plans, these will need to be updated and addressed before any work can start on-site too.

EDDC’s next step will be to produce a development brief and feasibility study for the site which will include an opportunity for public consultation and report back on options.

The Cabinet were clear that they wanted to optimise social housing and incorporate other community uses, as appropriate including retaining the existing amenities wherever possible.