HomeNews40 new homes in East Brent win go-ahead from Somerset Council despite...

40 new homes in East Brent win go-ahead from Somerset Council despite local opposition

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Contentious plans for a new housing development of 40 homes in East Brent have this week been given approval by Somerset Council.

East Brent LVA LLP applied for outline permission to build 40 new homes next to Old Bristol Road in East Brent near Burnham-On-Sea.

Sedgemoor District Council’s development committee originally refused the proposals in August 2020, but this decision was subsequently reversed by the Planning Inspectorate following an appeal.

Edenstone Homes later acquired the site and put forward updated plans in early 2022 – plans which came before Somerset Council’s north planning committee for final approval in March and were then referred until this month.

Somerset Council’s north planning committee voted to grant permission when it met on Tuesday (May 14th) despite seven councillors abstaining in the final vote.

The development site is classified by the Environment Agency (EA) as being in flood zone 3a, meaning there is at least a one per cent chance of it being flooded in the future. To counteract this, the outline plans proposed importing 30,000 cubic metres of soil to the site, raising the area by one metre.

That proposed solution has now been abandoned, with Edenstone choosing instead to install surface water pumps throughout the site which will move water away from the new homes in the event of heavy rain.

The access to the site will be via Old Bristol Road, crossing over Brock’s Pill Rhyne, with a new footpath being provided to link the new homes to key services in the village.

The amended proposals, which are known as reserved matters, will see 16 of the 40 homes classed as affordable – the equivalent of 40 per cent, which is higher than the council’s 30 per cent target for any new development comprising ten homes or more.

130 car parking spaces will be provided at the site, with an attenuation pond being provided at the northern end to further mitigate the risk of flooding.

Several local residents raised concerns during Tuesday’s planning committee meeting.

Jane Watkins said: “How do we know that these affordable homes units meet the national design standards? The minor adjustments [from the previous plans] still leave the remaining 75 per cent in a cluster.”

“At no stage have I been consulted about the drainage or footpath. There is no riparian ownership drawing, and I do not accept sole responsibility for the maintenance of the rhyne on the west boundary.”

May Cardwell added: “The applicant has ignored the residents’ concerns about flooding. Our properties lie below the road level, and the council is no longer issuing sandbags. These amended plans don’t appear to have any serious thought going into them. They have done absolutely nothing to alleviate our concerns.”

And Mark Williams added: “There is still a question over the ownership of land to provide the permanent access to the development. The council’s highways team has previously stated that they do not own the land to the south of the rhyne on Old Bristol Road, and therefore they will not adopt the road. There will therefore by 40-plus bins lined up on the road on collection dates, which may end up in the rhyne.”

Cllr Bob Filmer added that access issues surrounding the development should be sorted out before a single foundation was laid. He said: “We could be in a situation where the site is built and cannot be occupied because this access issue cannot be resolved. This stalemate needs to be resolved before construction starts.”

Cllr Brian Bolt told the meeting: “Are we going to get into the same position here as at the Dunball services with the access issue? I don’t want us to shy away from this.”

Somerset Council’s planning officer responded that planning conditions were in place from the outline East Brent planning consent to ensure any access issues were resolved before the first homes were occupied.

Cllr Matt Martin, who chaired the meeting, said the Planning Inspectorate’s decision regarding the outline consent had painted the committee into a corner. He said: “We don’t get to choose whether or not we like a thing. There are rules we need to abide by.”

Following over an hour’s debate, the committee voted to approve the plans by two votes to zero, with seven abstentions, noted the local democracy reporting service.

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