A controversial new development of up to 45 new homes in West Huntspill has this week been given the go-ahead by Sedgemoor district councillors following a split vote.
The new homes are set to be built on a field located next to the village’s A38 Main Road, near the junction with New Road, but residents have raised a number of concerns.
At a meeting of Sedgemoor’s Development Committee on Tuesday (October 12th), pictured here, councillors voted six in favour and six against, requiring the Chairman to give a casting vote – which led to approval being given for the outline planning application.
The plans include new public open space and parking facilities plus a new entry road onto the A38 to the south of the current bus stop.
The Parish Council raised concerns about the housing being an ‘over development’ of the site and it also expressed concern about safety and design quality, while several residents claimed the housing would be ‘out of keeping’.
Resident Vivian Evans told councillors that the plans would be “totally out of keeping with the surrounding area” and she went on to state that “no consultation” had been carried out by the developer with residents.
She said that 65 letters had been submitted against the scheme by local residents, in which concerns were raised about flooding, an increase in traffic, the safety of children who attend the nearby school, the impact on the environment, and a lack of new public facilities such as doctors and dentists in the area for the new homes.
John Wakefield from the Parish Council added that the scale of the proposed housing development had come of “something of a shock,” adding that “the last building of this scale in the village was in the 1940s with the Ringstone housing development.” He added that other new housing developments had been small, but “this is totally different and against the policy of a Tier 3 settlement.”
But Jonathan Chick from developers Walsingham Planning, who joined the meeting remotely online, said: “This development will deliver 18 affordable homes that are much needed in the parish.” He said that consultation about the plans had been carried out via a leaflet drop to homes, and he noted the concerns of the Parish Council and residents but said “they have all been considered and addressed… this application will deliver a number of benefits including a new school staff car park; new pedestrian crossings across the A38 and New Road, and a new play area – all needs identified in the Parish Plan.”
During the debate about the proposals, Cllr Alastair Hendy said: “I see the 18 new affordable homes as a good thing given the dire local need. I think the A38 access is acceptable, the street view will be good coming down that road, and I think the development will add to the ambiance of the village. I don’t have a problem with this. I think the development will enhance the village.”
But Cllr Mike Murphy said that he is “concerned” about the access plans, adding: “The safety of the A38 constantly concerns me – this road is turning out to be one of the most difficult roads in the county, mainly because of problems on the M5. This is the alternative route for the M5 when it is closed. I am very surprised you have allowed only one access route into the new development – there will be extra traffic and I am diametrically opposed to any development.”
“I think the homes should be further inland, away from the A38, with an independent access route onto New Road. This will not be a peaceful development, it will disturb residents and in some respect is over-bearing to the village.”
It was noted by Sedgemoor’s case officer that Somerset County Highways had carried out a safety audit of the plans and had raised no issues.
Cllr Brian Bolt questioned whether, given that 1,000 new homes would be coming to the area when the nearby Brue Farm development is completed, education facilities would be able to cope. The case officer responded that the County Council’s education department had not projected capacity issues in the area as a new school is planned on the new Brue Farm development.
Cllr Hendry proposed, and Cllr King seconded, a proposal to accept the new homes. Six councillors voted in favour and six voted against. The casting vote from Cllr Bob Filmer was in favour, meaning the development was granted permission with several planning conditions.
The layout of the site will be identified in future applications.