Town councillors have last night opposed controversial plans for 46 new homes to be built next to Walrow in Highbridge – just three months after previous plans for the same site were rejected.

Controversial previous plans for 47 new homes on the land north of Walrow were rejected by the Planning Inspectorate last October, as reported here. Sedgemoor District Council also voted to turn down the plans following over 120 letters of objection from residents.

Now, as first reported here by Burnham-On-Sea.com, the applicant Flower & Hayes Ltd has updated their plans and submitted a new application for 46 homes at the site.

At a meeting of Burnham and Highbridge Town Council’s Planning Applications Committee on Wednesday evening (January 29th), members voted to object against the revised plans after hearing concerns from local residents and considering the scheme.

The new plans includes market housing – three 2-bed houses, sixteen 3-bed houses, eight 4+ bed houses, five flats – and social housing for four 3-bed houses, four 4+ bed houses and six flats. There would be 121 parking spaces and 130 cycle spaces.

After reviewing the new plans, town councillors voted unanimously to object against the proposals on the same grounds as before, including highways and traffic concerns, over-development of the site, flooding concerns, out-of-keeping with the surrounding area and poor amenity.

Cllr Peter Clayton said: “There is very little difference between this application and the last one, which we opposed. I think our previous objections, and those of Sedgemoor District Council, still stand.”

Cllr Louise Parkin added that one of her key concerns is about parking. “You cant get two cars along Walrow at the same time – only one vehicle at a time due to the parking. It’s a bit of a jungle down there and you take your life into your hands. The highways tean need to do surveys of traffic there 18 hours a day to see the full impact and understand the physicality of it.”

Cllr Nick Tolley said: “It’s all about the infrastructure for me,” adding that he is worried that the “weak railway bridge” may not be able to handle the extra traffic generated by the site. He also said the road is often “totally bottle-necked” and that it would be “crazy” to create more traffic there.

Cllr Sue Harvey added: “I’m particularly concerned about the traffic survey with the application which uses January 2018 data over just two time periods and claims there are only ever a maximum of five cars queuing at the bridge. The application maintains that there will only be five cars coming of the site at peak times – there will actually be far more. They will come out of the site towards that bridge at a blind spot in the road.”

Cllr Helen Groves added: “The infrastructure is absolutely not there for further development” and Cllr Bill Hancock added: “I agree with everything said here tonight and propose we object profusely against the application on the same grounds as last time.”

Councillors voted to object and they recommended that a site visit should be undertaken by Sedgemoor District Council planners, who will ultimately have the final say on whether the plans win approval.

The applicant says in their new plans: “The purpose of this resubmission is to address the Appeal Inspector’s comments regarding the lack of outlook and potential visual intrusion to the ground floor of unit 13, and the lack of local distinctiveness to the character and appearance of the proposal as a whole.”

The applicant says they have also addressed the need for affordable housing and public open space at the site and adds: “For the avoidance of doubt, the submitted drawings and documents have now been amended as follows: Removal of the ground floor element of unit 13, now shown as a studio apartment entirely on the first floor, therefore avoiding any lack of outlook or potential visual intrusion into the residence. Roof coverings to all two/ three storey buildings are to have concrete red double roman tiles, and roof coverings to all single storey buildings to have natural grey slate roofs, in reference to the predominant roof covering in the vicinity. Window sill/heads are amended to reinforce the distinctiveness of the locality.”

Resident speaks out against Walrow homes plan

Several residents who are concerned about the new plans attended Wednesday’s meeting and local home owner Caroline Furze spoke out on behalf of residents.

Caroline Furze said: “Only minor tweaks have been made to the original documents and no new surveys have been carried out. The IMA transport survey was carried out a number of years ago and is now outdated. I believe it was carried out on one day only, on a day in February, (half term), one peak hour in the morning and afternoon, which is not a true representation of daily traffic is it?”

“I have spoken at a meeting previously about traffic and safety concerns on Walrow Road some years ago, and the only thing that has changed is that it is now worse than ever. In fact, a community speed team has been set up and were advised that they cannot stand in or near the car park off Somerset Way as it is too dangerous. The proposed access for this development is practically opposite that. Need I say more?”

“Highways really do need to make a site visit to understand the proposed location for access to this development and how dangerous it is. Poor visibility, close proximity to the bridge which cars regularly race over, the amount of vehicles queuing at the lights, not only at peak times but throughout the day and night is more like 8-10 not the two that’s stated in the survey which I mentioned. In fact the road is only quiet between the hours of 2am and 4am. I know this as my house fronts on to the road.”

“Adding in this access will mean four access points on one side of the road, all of which have poor visibility.”

“On flooding, the field where the trees were is now flooding and the risk will increase, something which isn’t fully addressed in the new submission. The road doesn’t cope well at present with heavy downpours and the drains flood regularly. Does the plan cover adequate drainage? I believe the original one didn’t.”

“Turning to parking, where would the workers on site park during working hours? There is not enough parking for locals – the car park just off Somerset Road is already used by workers on the industrial site, people travelling by train and selfish people storing cars there for their own benefit or to run a business.”

“There are 121 car parking spaces allocated for the development site but how many houses now have two or more cars. That number of spaces is not suitable, so where will they park?”

She added: “The style of dwellings is not in keeping with the area with the majority of neighbouring houses being built more than 150 years ago. It also seems a large number of dwellings for such a small area and parking for 121 cars will further increase noise and air pollution, littering and possible anti social behaviour.”

“Building in this green space will cause increased light pollution and remove much needed green space in the local area, what about the wildlife whose habitats have already been disrupted and will be completely destroyed by building houses here. Looking at a field with animals in is so much better than more and more houses.”

“Highbridge already has numerous housing developments whether passed, in progress or awaiting a decision, surely this development is not needed – those being Delta site 96, Brue Farm 550, Isleport 240, Lakeside 120+”

“Schools are full to bursting, doctors surgeries are at a breaking point, and with more sickness, of the health care professionals due to stress than ever and more leaving the profession all the time. There are no new amenities in the area, and the dentist and library have closed in the last year.”

“Tourists, although great for the local economy, pile in to the area and cause roads to be blocked to gridlock status – especially with the number of accidents that seem to occur weekly on the M5 between Taunton and Bristol – which makes Walrow Road even more of a rat run with people trying to avoid the motorway and use back roads.”

“Were this to go ahead, how will the large trucks get on to site? Walrow Road is almost too narrow for two cars to pass each other in places. How can huge trucks be expected to use it with all the other traffic. Walking on the pavements would be like a game of Russian roulette, it’s bad enough now. Parking towards the roundabout also causes issues and vehicles have to drive on the opposite side of the road. I wouldn’t want to meet a truck coming towards me, would you? The houses could also be structurally damaged – are the developers prepared for this?”

“This whole idea will affect local residents hugely and at what cost? I would ask you to reject this again and again and again if necessary and I’d encourage Highways and Network Rail to actually visit the site to see what is proposed and not to just look at a map, which only shows pictures, not the reality.”

  • Local people have until February 14th to give their views on the new plans, which have the planning application reference number 11/19/00128.

 

 
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