Controversial plans for a major new development of 248 new homes on land next to Isleport Lane in Highbridge were formally opposed by town councillors last night (Wednesday, January 30th).

As first reported by here, formal plans have been unveiled this month for the huge development of one, two, three and four bedroom homes.

Members of the Town Council’s Planning Applications Committee objected against the scheme at their latest meeting in Burnham on Wednesday, citing “over-development of the site, traffic and access concerns, and flood risks.”

Debbie Aplin, a director at Bickenhall Consulting, spoke at this week’s meeting on behalf of the developers, and said the site could have up to 270 homes, 30% of which will be classed as ‘affordable.’

She added that the plans also include a “dedicated community building which could be used as a new doctor’s surgery” although she conceded that “finding a doctor to run it is a big challenge.” She said the building could be used as a community shop or hall instead.

Cllr John Parkes said: “I am pleased that there will be a building for dedicated community use, but there are a number of residents who have severe concerns about the amount of traffic going up and down Isleport Lane. It is very narrow in parts with rhynes on both sides and these plans beggar belief.”

He added: “Many are also concerned about the lack of infrastructure in Highbridge to support it. It’s like the chicken and egg – you need the new homes to pay for the infrastructure, but can we cope with them all? I have real concerns about where these developments are located, with new homes at Lakeside, Walrow and Brue Farm.”

Cllr Martin Cox asked how long the development will take to build, to which Debbie Aplin responded it would be between “2.5 and three years, but up to four.”

Cllr Peter Clayton said: “This land next to Isleport Lane is already designated for development by Sedgemoor District Council in the Local Plan, so we can’t actually say ‘no’ here, but I think what’s being proposed does go away from the Neighbourhood Plan and is an over-development. I am not opposed to developed but it needs to be appropriate.”

And Cllr Louise Parkin added: “This is a rural development – flats would be totally inappropriate for the site. The density is far too high.”

She added that access to the site at peak times would be a problem. “Good luck to anyone trying to get out of their at busy times if they have to use Walrow as well.”

Cllr Nick Tolley said he’s concerned that the plans are an over-development: “The saturation of concrete in ratio to grass areas is just too much.” He believes the site would bring an extra 600 vehicles to the area, which would put “more strain” on roads.

Cllr Andy Brewer added that he would like to see improved “links to Highbridge” in terms of paths leading to the site to make it more sustainable. Cllr Parkin suggested a pelican crossing across Mark Road would be needed. Debbie Aplin responded that talks are underway to access Community Infrastructure Levy funds, which are a charge that local authorities can set on new developments in order to raise funds to help fund infrastructure, facilities and services.

Town councillors at the meeting unanimously agreed to object against the plans.

They also noted that Burnham Without Parish Council had recently objected against the plans, citing highways concerns, noise and proximity to the M5, and extra traffic.

Dozens of residents recently attended a public consultation session to voice concerns over the plans from Bickenhall Consulting, acting on behalf of the developers.

Sedgemoor District Council has identified a need to build 13,530 homes in the district between 2011 and 2032 – and these homes would be part of the local allocation.

But when Sedgemoor’s local plan was debated by town councillors, Highbridge councillors said the town “is being over-developed to the hilt.”

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