Knoll protest as new homes prompt 100 objections from residents
100 Brent Knoll residents have lodged objections against a controversial
scheme to build 14 new homes at the junction of the A38 and Brent
Street in the village.
It comes after the village's Parish Council has this week approved
a proposal to build 14 new 'market priced' homes on a field outside
the villages development envelope, on land next to the A38,
opposite the Fox and Goose pub, as first reported here.
Sturgess, one of the objecting residents, told Burnham-On-Sea.com
on Saturday: "The deadline for letters to Sedgemoor District
Council on this planning application closed on Friday, but it has
risen to well over 100 including a lengthy objection from
the Planning Adviser to the National Trust, the owners of the Knoll,
and a letter from Cllr John Denbee (Somerset County Councillor for
the Brent Ward), who has objected on Highways grounds and requested
that the application be put before Sedgemoor District Councils
full Planning Committee."
This is the second version of the planning application by developers
Coln Developments. The first version included a number of 'affordable
homes' whereas this second version has abandoned those affordable
homes in favour of a promise of £250,000 towards a traffic
lights scheme at the junction of the A38 and Brent Street.
More than 80 residents have submitted letters of opposition to the
scheme, but the plans were this week approved by a casting vote
from the Chairman at the latest meeting of Brent Knoll Parish Council.
Just four residents had submitted letters in support of the plans,
including those from the land owner and his relatives.
Mr Sturgess, one of the objecting residents, said: "We are
all bemused by how this was approved by our Parish Council."
"The Parish Council had already discounted this site in an
earlier consideration of future development, and their vote was
only carried because the councilor who is also Chairman of the Sedgemoor
District Councils Planning Committee chose to ignore his long-established
habit of withdrawing from any planning matter to speak and vote
in favour of this scheme."
"We are in no way being NIMBYs, because we all acknowledge
the need for our village to accommodate new affordable homes
four our young people and key-workers, like teachers, policemen,
nurses, and fire-fighters."
He added: "The Parish Council has worked hard to find suitable
sites for those new homes, which we all support: but those councilors
have now fallen prey to the bribe of a half-way house
traffic-lights scheme to approve this commercial development that
will do nothing but damage for the village."
David continued: "Our biggest fear is that, having been approved
by a casting vote on the Parish Council, Sedgemoor District Council
will view this matter as something that can now be handled under
'delegated powers', rather than being considered by the full Planning
"The fact is that the village wants a solution to the A38/Brent
Street junction but this proposal for 14 new market-priced
homes does not deliver the full solution."
"We can understand why some of our Parish Councillors supported
this commercial development, as they have been hunting for an improvement
to that road junction for many years. But this half-way-house proposal
is no reason for approving this scheme for market-priced homes at
a time when the village needs more affordable housing."
Knoll Parish Council defends its decision:
Cullwick, Clerk and financial Officer of Brent Knoll Parish Council,
told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "The Fox & Goose Junction has
been notorious for a number of years, with a long history of accidents.
The current layout was introduced about 20 years ago as a temporary
measure until something more permanent could be done. Various options
have been looked at over the years, but either due to finance or
workability, all have failed to materialise and the junction has
not been a priority for the Highways Authority as they have other
'problem' junctions with worse accident records. It has been the
hope locally that we could address the safety issues, before, rather
than after a fatality at the junction."
explain Cllr Filmers position regarding speaking and voting
at the Parish Council meeting, he is an elected member of Brent
Knoll Parish Council and also a member of Sedgemoors Development
Committee. To avoid any issues with 'predetermining' planning applications
at the Sedgemoor committee, there are 'standing orders' that require
members to confirm that they have 'not taken part in discussions
about an application at the Parish or Town Council level', if they
are to remain and vote on an application at the District level."
this case, and another site in Brent Knoll, the sites are outside
but adjacent to the village development boundary and are being promoted
by the land owners as 'Exception Sites', where planning policy could
allow development if it provides a community benefit. This is often
in the form of Affordable housing, but not exclusively. The Parish
Council have had several discussions and presentations relating
to these sites, on a without prejudice basis, over several months,
before any planning applications were drawn up or submitted, Cllr
Filmer as a member of the parish council, was party to those discussions.
He had explained to the Parish Council that, if and when, a planning
application was submitted, because of his involvement at the Parish
level, that he would be precluded from getting involved at the Sedgemoor
level and would not be able to be present for any subsequent debate
at the Sedgemoor Development committee. Cllr Filmer was therefore
able to remain, speak and vote at the Parish level, fully in accordance
with both Standing Orders and the Code of Conduct."
the Parish Council meeting, where the Council resolved to support
the planning application, the meeting was attended by a number of
residents, some of whom addressed the Council raising a number of
legitimate planning issues. The members of the council debated the
application and the close result showed the fact that the application
was balanced with a number of positive and negative issues that
were highlighted. The application was supported, subject to the
developers delivering a traffic light scheme to improve the safety
at the junction, provided that this was supported by the Highways
Authority to ensure that the scheme did not have negative impacts
on the highway network; something that only the Highways Authority
would be in a position to fully assess."
decision as to the suitability and deliverability of the traffic
light scheme will be decided by the Highways Authority and, only
if it is supported by them would the planning authority be able
to fully consider the application taking into account all the views
submitted to them. Obviously, because of Cllr Filmers involvement
with the decision at the Parish Council, he would not be involved
in that process or indeed present, should it go before the Development
is absolutely right that there is a need for 'Affordable Housing'
in Brent Knoll and that the Parish Council has been actively working
to see such a development come forward, including working with Sedgemoor
District Council to carry out Housing needs surveys, the latest
of which showed a need for 14 affordable homes. At the time of writing
a further consideration is being discussed which may well conclude
shortly with a formal application to support the local need for
affordable homes in line with current demand."
decision on whether the scheme - planning application 07/17/00004
- gets the go-ahead now rests with Sedgemoor District Council.