East Brent housing plans

A large housing development which was dubbed “one of the worst” is set to proceed after getting the go-ahead following a successful appeal.

East Brent LVA LLP applied for outline permission to build 40 new homes next to Old Bristol Road in East Brent, near Burnham-On-Sea.

Burnham-On-Sea.com reported here in August 2020 that Sedgemoor District Council’s Development Committee had rejected the proposals.

Over 300 letters of objection were lodged against the proposals, with residents saying the development would damage nearby homes and raise the flooding risk.

However, the developer appealed against the decision and now the Planning Inspectorate has reversed that judgement, with more detailed plans expected to be unveiled later this year.

The site of the planned development is classed by the Environment Agency as being located in Flood Zone 3A, which means that there is at least a one per cent chance of it being flooded in the future. To address this risk, the developer proposed importing 30,000 cubic metres of soil onto the site in order to raise the level of the area by one metre.

Cllr Andrew Gilling, whose Knoll council ward includes the development site, expressed his concern about the plans when the authority’s Development Committee debated them in 2020. Cllr Gilling said at the time: “I have seen some pretty horrendous applications. This is one of the worst I have ever had the misfortune to come across.”

Planning Inspector Liam Page visited the site in July 2021 and has unveiled his decision in a new report published in late December. He said the noise levels from lorry movements associated with the building of the new homes “would not exceed thresholds where sound insulation or temporary rehousing would be necessary.”

The inspector has also agreed with the County Council’s Highways department in saying the proposed development would not put pedestrians or other motorists at risk. And he adds: “I note that the highway authority has not objected to the use of Old Bristol Road as a construction access on highway safety grounds and, from what I saw on site, I see no reason to take a different view.”

“While I note the council’s concerns that Old Bristol Road does not have footways, the anticipated volume of traffic, which can be controlled by conditions, would not result in an unacceptable impact on highway safety.”

Liam adds that the absence of a pavement along Old Bristol Road is not an issue as the end nearest the new homes “can be treated as a shared surface” for motorists and pedestrians given the low speeds at which vehicles would be travelling.

On the risk of flooding, the inspector states that there is evidence that raising the level of the site and slowing the discharge of any surface water into a nearby rhyne would lower the risk to nearby residents.

He concludes: “There is no evidence that the principle of development is unacceptable, including in relation to the strategic housing land availability assessment position, the protection of green belt land, or otherwise. Consequently, given that the principle of development is acceptable, there is sufficient control at reserved matters to manage the expansion of the village in terms of safeguarding the character and appearance of the area.”

It was noted that a separate request for the council to pay the developer’s legal costs for the appeal has been refused by the inspector.

A reserved matters application, with further details surrounding the design and layout of the planned new properties, is due to be formally submitted to the council later in 2022.


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