ANXIOUS WAIT: Templecombe homes update
Residents of a Somerset village face an anxious wait over whether new homes will be approved after an appeal was lodged by a developer.
Gleeson Strategic Land Ltd applied to build 80 homes on the Manor Farm site at the southern end of Templecombe, just off the busy A357.
The plans were subsequently amended to 60 homes, with the amount of green space within the development being increased.
But South Somerset District Council still refused permission in August 2020, stating the revised plans would still cause “unacceptable harm” to both existing residents and local heritage assets.
The developer is now seeking to overturn this decision through a formal legal challenge via the Planning Inspectorate – meaning the homes could still go ahead.
This appeal comes after detailed plans for a further 70 homes were put forward on behalf of the Thales Group at a separate site near its factory.
Gleeson’s plans entail creating a new access on the A357 Combe Hill, with the majority of the homes being built at the southern end of the site and a community woodland being created to the north.
David Kenyon, the council’s planning officer, said on August 14, 2020 that the site could accommodate a smaller number of homes, but the current plans would not meet local need.
He said: “Some residential development can be provided on parts of the site without causing unacceptable detriment to the landscape character and harm to visual amenity.
“However, there are other parts of the site, particularly on the eastern and southern outer slopes, where residential development is indicated on the master-plan and which we consider would cause an unacceptable level of harm to the rural character of that part of the site and the wider landscape.
“Development in these areas would also cause an unacceptable level of harm to the visual amenity of those adjacent to the site as well as those in the wider landscape.
“An overriding essential need [for these homes] has not been justified.”
A spokesman for Gleeson said the scheme had been designed with “a thorough understanding of the physical characteristics of the site and its surroundings”, arguing it was the most viable scheme for this part of the village.
The spokesman added: “The proposed development delivers much-needed affordable housing and through an increased population, enhances community facilities by bringing back into use the netted-off classroom at Abbas and Templecombe Primary School.
“The proposed development enhances the sustainability of Templecombe.”
The Planning Inspectorate has indicated that an inquiry into the plans could be held virtually on May 11, with a decision being expected later in the summer.
Templecombe has seen significant interest from developers in the last few years, with a number of substantial applications being put forward.
Plans to build 49 homes on West Street were approved by the council’s regulation committee in June 2020 after it had been turned down at two previous hearings – a decision which residents described as “an affront to common sense”.
Thales Group was granted outline permission for 70 homes on Slades Hill in December 2018, as part of the expansion of its existing facility.
Detailed plans (known as reserved matters) for the site have been put forward on the company’s behalf by Kier Living, concerning the design and layout of the new houses along with other fine details.
The new homes will encircle Blackmore Close with a new access onto the A357, with 25 out of the 70 properties being affordable (the equivalent of 36 per cent).
The plans set aside land for an attenuation pond at the northern end of the site to prevent localised flooding, as well as a new sports playing field for the neighbouring primary school.
The council is expected to make a decision on the Slades Hill plans later in the spring.
Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV