councillor's 'deep concern' over plans for 95 riverside homes
town councillor has this week expressed "deep concerns"
about the way in which a controversial planning application for
95 riverside homes in Highbridge has been considered.
a meeting of the full town council, Cllr Helen Groves said proposals
to turn this riverside boatyard in Clyce Road into a development
of 95 new homes should be re-thought.
is concerned that the town council's planning applications committee
has given approval to the scheme by concluding that new flood
defences to be built at the site will bring benefits to the wider
scheme - which includes eighty five 2, 3 and 4 bedroom houses,
plus ten 1-bedroom flats - has resulted in scores of nearby residents
signing a petition opposed to the scheme and over 16 letters of
objection being sent to the district council.
application for outline planning permission was last month given
lukewarm approval by town councillors amid continuing concerns
about vehicular access via Smith Way and the number of properties
planned for the site.
Helen Groves, pictured with Highbridge Residents Association's
Kim Chatwin and Tina Gray, told Burnham-On-Sea.com on Friday:
"I have very real concerns regarding the manner in which
this application has been processed and responded to, and in particular
with part of the Town Council's response."
It comes after the Town Council published its minutes of a recent
meeting where the planning application was considered. Part
of the minutes stated: 'the Town Council agrees that the proposed
new flood defences included in this application will have a community
benefit for Highbridge as a whole by enabling the development
of other sites which will bring forward other community benefits
to support infrastructure delivery.'
Cllr Groves explained: "I am absolutely against this application
on the basis that it does not deliver sufficient community benefit
as is required and expected of all applications of this scale
and does not meet planning policy but I do accept the processes
of council are democratic and all councillors have an equal right
to their views."
I feel very strongly that we must have a consistent approach to
assessing applications. As a member of the town council planning
committee I have always been given to understand that we are legally
required to only consider the merits of the applications in front
may not, for instance, look at an application and say that we
are aware of two others which in combination may create a traffic
issue. Nor may we look at an application and respond by saying
that though an application does not meet planning policy in terms
of infrastructure we think it will enable other developments to
"There are good and sensible reasons for doing this and it
ensures applications are given fair and equal treatment and avoids
issues of pre-determination. In essence, it has been my view that
the Town Council should not have made this response as we have
no idea what the development of other sites will or will not bring
in terms of infrastructure or anything else."
Sedgemoor District Council provided a planning brief for the linked
sites of the Hotel and Cattle Market, The Boatyard and The H17
consortium land, then and only then would it be appropriate to
make assessment of the applications in combination."
"In my personal view, it is unreasonable for the district
officers to ask us to consider this or any application as a part
of a jigsaw when all we are handed is a piece of sky and asked
to guess the value of the picture."
councillors at Wednesday's meeting considered her comments but
took a vote and decided against changing the wording of their
response to the application.
Peter Burridge-Clayton said that while he has concerns about the
application, he feels the flood defences would be good for the
town. "The proposed flood defences would benefit a large
area of Highbridge and provide community benefit," he said.
Clerk Eileen Shaw added: "The minutes accurately reflected
what was agreed by the majority of members at the planning meeting."
Dennis Davey, Neville Jones and Mayor Ken Smout left the meeting
during the debate because they also sit on Sedgemoor's planning
committee which will ultimately decide whether the scheme goes