Published: September 28, 2011
Developers quizzed over plans for 550 homes in Highbridge

Town councillors have this week quizzed the developers behind major plans to build 550 new homes in Highbridge, raising a number of concerns.

Members of the town council's planning applications committee met Nick Duckworth, a director from Hallam Land Management, (pictured) as they got a first chance to question the firm over its plans for the Brue Farm site on the southern side of the town.

Councillors were divided on whether to support Hallam's request for 550 homes or the original proposal of 400 homes.

They voted in favour of 550 although Cllr Helen Groves raised concerns that Highbridge's infrastructure may not be able to cope with such a huge new development.

During the two-hour meeting on Monday, Cllr Allan Miller, who chairs the committee, also raised concerns about the lack of medical facilities in Highbridge.

Doctors surgeries, he claimed, are already "very stretched" and may not be able to cope with an influx of new residents. Mr Duckworth said he was unaware of the problem, but confirmed that extra facilities may be considered on the site.

Cllr Bill Hancock raised concerns that flats and affordable housing might be built at the site.

"Highbridge has far too many affordable homes at the moment with some developments jammed full like sardines - that mustn't happen here," he said.

It was confirmed that a wide range of new homes is being proposed and that large numbers of flats are not planned.

While the construction of a new school at the site was welcomed, Cllr Helen Groves asked whether the county council had given an assurances that it would be able to provide new teachers. Mr Duckworth said it had.

He added that the whole site would take 6-7 years to build, with the school being constructed in year 2 of the project.

Cllr Phil Harvey questioned Hallam on the provision of shops at the site - something that is not planned - and asked whether Hallam would consider providing funding to community facilities such as Highbridge Library. Mr Duckworth responded: "We would be happy to consider any reasonable community requests."

Cllr Martin Cox asked for details on how a colony of newts present at the site would be handled, as first featured by here earlier this month. Mr Duckworth confirmed that the creatures would be moved to new ponds on the site.

The provision of play areas, a new youth club building, access onto the A38 and adequate parking facilities were also among the other key points during the session.

The application will be further discussed at the next town council meeting and is not expected to go before Sedgemoor planners before late November.

Mr Duckworth told he felt the meeting "had been quite positive" and added that it had been "another small step along the way."


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