Fresh concerns were raised at a heated town council meeting last night (Thursday) over plans to turn this riverside boatyard in Highbridge into a development of 95 new homes after councillors gave the scheme a ‘green light’.
New fears were raised about the poor transport access to the site, limited car parking and councillors questioned the types of properties being proposed: eighty five 2, 3 and 4 bedroom houses, plus ten 1-bedroom flats.
As first reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com here, the application for outline planning permission is centred on land to the west of 67 Clyce Road, which is currently used as a boat yard and storage area for motor homes.
Scores of residents in the area have signed petitions opposing the scheme and 16 letters of objection have been sent to the district council.
Cllr Helen Groves, pictured with leaders of Highbridge Residents Association after Thursday’s meeting, said: “Highbridge needs investment and sympathetic developments which enhance the Town. It does not need high density developments which ignore traffic and access impacts and further strain existing infrastructure.”
Cllr Bill Hancock added: “Access to this proposed development is a big issue. The whole scheme should not go ahead if traffic is expected to pass along Smith Way.”
But in a vote, councillors voted by a majority of 4-1 in favour of accepting the application in principal while maintaining objections over access and car parking. Cllr Groves voted against the plans while Cllr Allan Miller, who chaired the meeting, abstained.
Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton said: “I accept outline planning permission in principal but continue to have strong objections, particularly over access. I would not have issue with maisonettes here but I would not want to see more flats.”
Cllr Chris Williams told Burnham-On-Sea.com afterwards: “I fear the word ‘maisonettes’ is just a posh term for flats and, given the appalling access to the site, I am strongly opposed to this development. I will be speaking against the plans when they are considered by the district council in May.”
Thursday’s debate was prompted after the Environment Agency dropped its objection to the flood defence scheme being proposed at the site. New information about transport modelling has also been submitted to the district council by the land owner.
Among those present at the meeting were Highbridge Residents Association’s Kim Chatwin and Tina Gray. Tina told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The infrastructure is simply not in place to support this development and we are strongly opposed to it.”
And Cllr Groves told Burnham-On-Sea.com after the meeting: “I am very disappointed with the decision to withdraw substantive elements of the Town Council’s objection to the proposal for this site. I feel it is quite wrong we have been asked to vote three times on this issue without anything having changed about the application simply because SDC officers do not share the views which had been expressed by Town Councillors.”
“Given that the proposal itself has not altered and the only concession being offered is a undefined RLT2 and 3 commitment, I do not consider the decision was merited.”
“Highbridge absolutely does not need more flats. It is a completely unreasonable expectation to ask a statutory consultee to consider an application in the context of a series of potential applications which may or may not deliver benefits. I feel this has been a very bad day for Highbridge and its future and would urge members of the public who have so often told me that this is not what they want for their Town to make their objections known to SDC before May 9th.”
Pictured: The riverside site in Highbridge and, above, Highbridge Residents Association’s Kim Chatwin and Tina Gray with Cllr Helen Groves