District plans for the ‘regeneration’ of Kingsbridge Quay could be going back to the drawing board.

At a somewhat heated meeting at Follaton House on Thursday, South Hams District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee recommended that new masterplans would be drawn up, with a further public consultation.

The results of the recent public consultation on the development have yet to published, but initial results showed that, of 700 respondents, only 35 per cent supported “development in principle”.

When broken down by age, 49 per cent of people aged under 46 answered “yes” to the same question; while only 25 per cent of those aged over 46 supported “development in principle”.

The key issues expressed by residents of Kingsbridge were calls for more affordable housing, concerns over loss of car parking, and an opposition to any development on the quayside.

At the request of Kingsbridge district councillor Rufus Gilbert, consideration will be deferred to the Executive committee meeting on October 19, to allow time to release the consultation results in full and allow the council time to look at alternative models.

At the meeting in Totnes, two Kingsbridge town councillors, Martina Edmonds and Robin Griffin were in attendance to hear responses to questions submitted on behalf of the town council.

Their questions drew attention to a statement from the report to the committee, which stated that the consultation responses recognised that “development of the quayside is needed to support costs of improvements to public realm and provision of affordable housing”.

Kingsbridge Town Council accused the district council of “holding the Kingsbridge community to ransom, in unnecessarily linking development of the Quayside to support costs of improvements to the public realm and provision of affordable housing.

“Adequate funding is available for the latter given SHDC’s recent monies from central government. What percentage and form of consultation response constitute ‘recognition’ that this ‘is needed’?”

Kingsbridge Town Council also asked: “What is the basis from the consultation that allow SHDC to assert that there is a ‘recognition’ that this project is needed?”

In answer to the question, an officer from the assets team said it was “unfortunate that the term ‘ransom’ had crept into the consultation”.

The officer went on to state that SHDC is looking to provide 40 per cent affordable housing, and stated the council has £1.8m from central government to support affordable housing schemes across the district.

“This is to support existing projects, build new community housing schemes and purchase land for new schemes, not solely to deliver affordable homes in Kingsbridge.

“The Quay is an allocated site, of which SHDC is a major landowner,” the officer continued. “We need to look at our assets moving forward, and that’s what this masterplan has done.”

The officer stated that, with deferment until October, it would give an opportunity to “address the town’s concerns and move forward, but it’s going to be challenging”.

Leader of SHDC, Cllr John Tucker assured Kingsbridge Town Council they would be talking to them about “what the next stage we’ll be considering”.

“The next proposal will go to consultation,” said Cllr Tucker. “It’s important that we are seen to be listening to the consultation and continue to talk to the town.”

Cllr Griffin thanked the committee for the responses, and said he looked forward to making progress “in the direction Kingsbridge people want”.

Later in the meeting, Cllr Tucker said: “We will go to the town council with the consultation document in due course, although it looks like it won’t be long before the executive meeting in October.

“The reviewed plan will be different,” said Cllr Tucker. “I give that assurance to our members in Kingsbridge and the town council, with officers we’ll find a way forward. Any site has to be viable, but how that looks, I don’t know.”

Cllr Rufus Gilbert said: “I’m satisfied that the community are being listened to. Members and officers are ‘on message’ and willing and able to address those concerns within the community. There will be revised plans going forward which will demonstrate the consultation process has worked well, and the results will be incorporated in revised plans.

“Myself and Cllr Keith Wingate are quite comfortable with our conversation with the leader and officers, wherein we discussed the next steps after the consultation.”

But Cllr David May said he wasn’t comfortable: “All the years I’ve been on this council, we’ve always been told to look at the big picture. I’d be interested to see what the consultation says. I’ve got to tell you now, that if it varies greatly, to the tune of what everybody else wants, apart from us – I’ll not be a happy bunny.

“We want to see the big picture, not just what Kingsbridge wants.”

Several councillors expressed concern about the cost of further planning, with Cllr Julian Brazil asking “are we going to continue to spend money like there’s no tomorrow?”

And Cllr Judy Pearce said: “If we’re being truly commercial, this will affect the overall viability, which will impact either on the appearance and the public realm works, or on the amount of affordable housing. We can’t say we’re being commercial, if we’re not being commercial.”

But Cllr Tucker responded: “If we were being truly commercial, we’d just enforce what we’ve already got and get on with it. But we’re not, we’re listening to the consultation.”

Cllr Nicky Hopwood asked officers to bear in mind: “Whatever happens, Kingsbridge needs affordable housing and Kingsbridge residents need to recognise that they need affordable housing.

“I believe the young people of Kingsbridge will have the vision to accept that to have truly affordable housing, there has to be some commercial development because there is no other way to pay for it.”

But this is disputed by Kingsbridge Town Council that have previously said SHDC “could borrow it like any other developer” and that they are in a better position because “they own the land already”.

A spokesman for South Hams District Council confirmed this week that the full consultation results will be published once the masterplan document has been finalised.