January 12, 2016
Concerns raised over huge new housing development for Highbridge

Councillors and residents last night (Monday) gave a cool reception to multi-million pound plans for a proposed new housing development on farmland on the outskirts of Highbridge.

As first reported here, the developer behind the huge Brue Farm project wants to build 49 new homes at the site next to Huntspill Road in Highbridge as part of its first phase.

Hallam Land Management Ltd has submitted a 'Reserved Matters' application to build the homes on the fields. The 64-acre development will eventually see 550 homes plus a new 210-pupil school, a nursery, plus outdoor playing facilities and public spaces - but not all in the first phase.

Town councillors debated the plans during their Planning Applications Committee meeting on Monday evening (January 11th).

Access onto the site near Buncombes Garage on the busy A38 is one of the key safety concerns for councillors. Cllr Bill Hancock said: "It's a dangerous, busy junction that would be unsafe to motorists."

Chairman Cllr Andy Brewer added: "There is a strong argument for development to start at the southern end of the site rather than the north, away from the junction and nearer a proposed new roundabout on the A38."

While councillors welcomed the fact that the development will be mostly homes rather than flats, Cllr John Parkes said: "I'm at a loss to understand the phasing of this development - there's no information about the number of affordable homes being delivered in each phase."

Cllr Louise Parkin added: "Highbridge already has an enormous amount of affordable homes - I'm keen to see the town getting better quality homes that local people can aspire to. There's a great inbalance in Highbridge at the moment."

Councillors also considered which of the public amenities should be delivered in the phases of the development. Cllr Brewer said: "I'd like to see the proposed foot bridge across the river being built early to help link the site with the town."

Cllr Parkes went on to say: "Highbridge's doctors and schools are bursting at the seams, so where are all the new children at Brue Farm going to go to school if a new school is not delivered here early in the project?"

The Town Council's Deputy Town Clerk Lorna Williams explained that the new school would be build as part of the phasing of the Brue Farm site. "On completion of the 201st home, the contract for a school will be placed, and on completion of the 251st home the school must be completed."

But local resident Tony Lynham warned: "Highbridge definitely doesn't want another small new school that's full to capacity in the first week."

He also went on to stress the importance of work to prevent flooding at the site going ahead early in the development.

The Brue Farm scheme previously got the backing of the Town Council back in 2011 when councillors stressed that they did not want to see flats built there - only houses. Outline planning approval for the full Brue Farm scheme of up to 550 homes was approved back in 2013.

However, the 'Reserved Matters' application submitted to Sedgemoor District Council this month covers "the appearance, landscaping, layout and scale for a first phase of development comprising 49 dwellings."

The development was handed a multi-million pound boost in 2014 when the government granted the project £4.3m from its Local Growth Fund - see the link below.

Also see:
£4.3m boost will see 550 homes and a new school built in Highbridge

Pictured: Monday's Town Council meeting and, above, the Brue Farm site in Highbridge where the homes may be built


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