Controversial plans by Sedgemoor District Council to convert Highbridge’s former library building into new flats have been given final approval by councillors this week.

The proposals – which were opposed by Burnham and Highbridge Town Council and were branded as “madness” and “disgraceful” by Highbridge Chamber of Trade – were granted approval by district councillors when Sedgemoor’s Development Control Committee met on Tuesday (April 16th).

Sedgemoor District Council, which owns Alpha House in Market Street, submitted the plans for a ‘conversion of the former library space into two flats.’ Highbridge library closed down at the end of 2018 due to cost-cutting measures.

Sedgemoor’s Development Control Committee Chairman Cllr Bob Filmer told “The plans were unanimously approved by members for several reasons – the plans are not contrary to planning policy as no commercial use is being removed; there are already flats around this property so it doesn’t set a precedent; and councillors welcomed the fact that this will introduce much-needed new affordable housing.”

A Town Council spokesperson said: “Our members objected to this application on the grounds that there were insufficient flood mitigation measures, it was contrary to the Neighbourhood Plan as it was a loss of retail space in the Retail Centre, and was an over-development of the site.”

Mike Murphy, Chairman of Highbridge Chamber of Trade, described the “disgraceful” plan as “madness.” He told town councillors last month: “Highbridge is being swamped with more and more housing with no amenities. I am very concerned and strongly recommend this application is turned down. Are we really going to lose a valuable retail unit or service hub for another two new flats in an area that has been designated by Sedgemoor as a main retail area?”