March 8, 2018
Concern over plans to build 130 homes on public field in Highbridge

A public field on the outskirts of Highbridge could be turned into a major new housing development of up to 130 homes under controversial plans just unveiled.

Local property developer Toni Hammick has revealed the 'concept plans' for a development of 'affordable' homes on land between Lakeside and Isleport.

Speaking to Burnham and Highbridge town councillors, she admits the scheme "may be controversial" due to the proposed loss of a publicly-owned field - the site is owned by five owners, one of whom is Sedgemoor District Council.

"The loss of any public open space is always a very sensitive issue, but if we can provide quality open space then the reduction may be acceptable" she added, explaining that a fitness trail and children's play area would be provided alongside the new homes.

"The field is under-used at the moment and is usually kept locked by Sedgemoor District Council to prevent anti-social behaviour," said Toni, pictured above.

"We are not proposing to put more 'boxes' here, but a bespoke development of affordable housing to fully suit the town's needs."

She explained that it is intended the properties would be rental homes for around five years before the leases would then become available to buy.

"We have ticked a lot of the boxes in the latest Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Neighbourhood Plan and Sedgemoor's local plan, so issues such as flooding and transport are being addressed."

But Highbridge town councillor Cllr John Parkes said he is unhappy about the scheme, saying: "I have concerns that Highbridge is being over-developed with 800+ new homes planned for other sites including Brue Farm."

"I would be very surprised if you don't see huge opposition to these proposals at this location."

"We have £400,000 of developer funding available that was to be partly used on improving the public right of way access to this field."

Cllr Parkes, pictured above, added: "It always feels as though housing developments are 'done to' Highbridge rather than 'done with' local people."

He continued: "There are plenty of other more suitable sites that could be looked at for new housing."

But Toni Hammick said she "fully understands the concerns of residents". She added that the new site, if approved, would see a development of "quality new homes" provided by a new tenderer that she believes "would improve Highbridge."

Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton asked whether the plans include the infilling of any of the nearby lakes which he remarked had been contentious in the past.

Toni Hammick explained this is not intended: "We have no plans to touch the lakes," she said.

Cllr Andy Brewer asked when the proposals would move from the current "concept" stage to a formal planning application for councillors and residents to submit their views.

Toni explained that the scheme would be submitted over the "next few weeks" and would initially be lodged as a 'reserved matters application' before full planning consent is sought later.

Pictured: The controversial plans and the slides that were shown at the Town Council meeting (photos:


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