SOMERSET HOMES: Plans for 63 new homes refused again
Plans for dozens of new homes in a Somerset village have been refused for a second time – despite an appeal being lodged against the original decision.
Gladman Developments put forward plans to build 63 new houses behind the existing properties on Anchor Road in Coleford, located between Frome and Shepton Mallet.
Mendip District Council narrowly voted to refuse the plans in August 2020, arguing that it would put a strain on the services available in the “large, rurally isolated village”.
The developer has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate and put these revised proposals forward as part of its legal challenge.
But the council’s planning board voted to refuse them again by a much larger margin when it convened virtually on Wednesday evening (March 17).
As part of the plans, Gladman committed that 30 per cent of the new homes will be affordable – the equivalent of 19 properties – split between social rent and shared ownership.
New footpaths and street lighting will be provided along Anchor Road and Rush Ash Lane as part of the application, along with play areas and more than £100,000 towards early years education.
But these proposals did little to curry favour with either residents or councillors.
Andy Coln said: “This application has the same number of dwellings on the same site. Your case officer’s assertion that the number of dwellings could be reduced at a later stage is not credible.
“This would link Coleford to the hamlet of Lipyeate, so it would mean yet more linear development and loss of their separate identities.”
Mark Reynolds, a planning consultant speaking on behalf of Coleford Parish Council, added: “Coleford has already delivered more housing completions than required for the settlement up to 2029.
“The proposal has not changed in any material way. The number of houses, the proposed layout and the vast majority of the landscaping scheme are identical.
“This is not a meaningful attempt to overcome the previous refusal.”
Councillor Alan Townsend, who represents the Coleford and Holcombe ward, said the development would go against the council’s drive for “a fairer, greener Mendip” and had attracted more letters of objection that the contentious Saxonvale regeneration scheme, which was approved in January.
He elaborated: “This application ignores our legitimate concerns on highway safety, which affect all our residents.
“Somerset County Council’s highways team hasn’t even commented on the possibility of extending the 30mph speed limit area.
“This application ignores the strength of local objection.”
Councillor Philip Ham, who represents the same ward, added: “Coleford’s sewerage system is very old – the drainage water and foul-water use the same pipes, and the system is totally overloaded.
“Last week, I had a letter from a constituent saying she had raw sewage coming up near her house after a sudden downpour.”
After more than an hour’s debate, the committee voted to refuse the plans by a margin of 12 votes to one.
The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that a virtual public inquiry for the original Coleford plans would be held as part of the appeal process, but has not confirmed a date for either the hearing or the appointed inspector’s site visit.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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