Published: January 20, 2011
Proposals for new Highbridge homes get council backing

Proposals to build up to 400 new homes on fields on the outskirts of Highbridge over the next two decades have this week been given a lukewarm backing by the town council.

Councillors met to discuss their response to Sedgemoor District Council's consultation on the future development of the land at Brue Farm, south of the River Brue.

Town councillors are anxious that the development should not consist simply of more flats, but quality family houses instead. They want to see 250 homes rather than 400 flats.

Cllr Janet Keen told the meeting: "We want houses, not flats. The design of the new development must also be chosen to attract families."

And Cllr John Morgan added: "The district council has shown itself to have no social conscience in the past, approving flats for single parents in Highbridge that have tarmac back and front with no lifts or areas to store bikes and waste bins. This development must be different."

The Brue Farm site was previously the subject of a proposed housing allocation in the district council's former draft Local Plan but it was removed prior to its Local Plan Inquiry held in 2001. This was due to there being no requirement to make further greenfield housing allocations in Sedgemoor in addition to those in South Bridgwater to meet the area's strategic housing targets.

Brue Farm is now considered the preferred site for future development in Burnham and Highbridge since it provides a central location and is easily accessible to Highbridge Railway Station and the A38.

Town councillors are also keen that Burnham and Highbridge does not miss out on follow-on community funding from property development.

"As a greenfield site, the community funding for Burnham and Highbridge would be substantially higher than for other sites," Cllr Chris Williams told this week's meeting.

And Cllr Neville Jones added that he has been "assured" the community funding from the developer of the site would be ring-fenced for Burnham and Highbridge.

"There would be very loud screams from me if one penny left these towns," he warned.

Other sites considered for future development are land at Alstone in Highbridge, land north of the former radio station in Burnham, land east of Love Lane in Burnham and land north of Stoddens Road in Burnham. However, the Brue Farm site is now the clear front-runner following this week's meeting.

The Town Council's feedback will be fed into Sedgemoor's Core Strategy document and a separate planning application will be needed to take the plans forward.

The Core Strategy document sets out a 20 year vision for the district and covers the spatial strategy and policies, including the key infrastructure and investment decisions, required to deliver this.

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