A former Highbridge town councillor has voiced concerns about planned large-scale housing developments “fundamentally eroding the nature of the town and all sense of social cohesion.”
Helen Groves has spoken out amid concern regarding the number of new homes being proposed for the town.
They include 550 homes at Brue Farm on the outskirts of Highbridge, 248 homes next to Isleport Lane (pictured above), plus 121 new homes on a publicly-owned field next to Lakeside in Highbridge, plus 47 new homes on private land next to Walrow.
Helen told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “For the last decade Highbridge has been host to such large scale development it has fundamentally eroded the nature of the town and all sense of social cohesion.”
“Development has far outpaced investment into essential infrastructure such as educational provision. Even if Brue Farm is built and eventually provides a new school, the County Council says it will only meet the needs of Brue Farm and the shortfall of five years ago.”
“The increasing strain placed upon secondary education is now impacting the potential of students to secure positive outcomes. In recent years, schools in Highbridge have been placed into special measures or ranked as failing.”
“Road links have become so overloaded as to be dangerously unmanageable during peak times through the town, in particular in regards to through routes or in close proximity to schools.”
“There are significant issues with drainage that have seen previously stable housing suffering flooding of low levels, and health provision is now so overwhelmed the single practice has been like the schools, pushed into special measures in recent years.”
She adds: “Highbridge is not and never has been anti-development. It is a welcoming and friendly town with an amazing community spirit, but it is an area of high social and economic deprivation. Planners must begin to understand the need for a sustainable model of development of they wish the community to support it. There is a reality of poor development being inflicted upon this community to a breaking point.”
“Without proper investment, this development will only compound the already overwhelming difficulties faced by this community that have arisen as a direct consequence of building thousands of homes, often of poor design, without any plan let alone investment into the supporting infrastructure required for it.”
“I viewed it as an utter betrayal of a duty of care when on the council and still do. It may serve to employ builders from outside the area for a short time, it certainly increases council tax revenue, but it is at such a cost in human misery that it is unforgivable.”
Burnham and Highbridge town councillors have been airing similar concerns about the scale of the proposed development in the town during recent planning meetings.