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LEGAL AGREEMENTS: Sedgemoor development delays

LEGAL AGREEMENTS: Sedgemoor development delays

Image: LDRS

More than 1,800 homes in one part of Somerset cannot be built due to delays in signing legal agreements between developers and the district council.

Sedgemoor District Council has given approval to a number of large planning applications in the last two years, either by a public vote of its development committee or through the delegated authority of its planning officers.

Once approval has been given, legal contracts must be signed between the council and developers to secure financial contributions towards new schools, road improvements, play areas and other community facilities.

But delays in signing these agreements (for a variety of reasons) has left nearly a dozen developments in limbo, with construction work unable to begin until both parties have signed on the dotted line.

A list of the affected sites was published ahead of a meeting of the council’s development committee on Tuesday morning (June 1).

In all 11 sites are affected, with a total of 1,817 homes being held up along with employment units, care facilities and a new primary school.

Here’s a list of the stricken sites:

  1. Land north of the A39 Quantock Road in Bridgwater (675 homes, primary school and community venue – approved October 2020): this was a hybrid application, with full planning permission being given for the first 238 homes and outline plans being approved for a further 437 homes, the primary school and a community facility. A draft legal agreement was circulated to officers on May 9, and the county council is currently exploring how much money will be needed to build the school and community facility ahead of more detailed plans being put forward. TARGET DATE: December 2021
  2. Land south of the A39 Quantock Road in Bridgwater (354 homes – approved March 2021): like the previous development, this is a hybrid application, with full planning permission for the first 114 homes and outline permission for a further 240 homes. A draft agreement laying out the various costs of the development was circulated in early-April – including a contribution of just over £2.2M towards a new primary school, funding for a new junction on the A39 ad improvements to the Dunball roundabout. TARGET DATE: December 2021
  3. Land east of Isleport Lane, Highbridge (248 homes – approved November 2019): outline approval was granted to this development on the understanding that it would deliver a “serviced community centre site” as well as a number of new and upgraded play areas. Negotiations have stalled due to Highways England (which manages the nearby M5) having concerns about the development’s impact on the flow of traffic at Junction 22. TARGET DATE: August 2021
  4. Land west of the B3141 Woolavington Hill in Woolavington (175 homes – approved September 2020): these homes were approved on the condition that a new roundabout be delivered on the A39 Bath Road at the southern end of the site, with additional contributions towards the Dunball roundabout near Junction 23 of the M5. Final approval from the county council’s legal team (including the issue of allotments being transferred) is expected in the next few weeks. TARGET DATE: June 2021
  5. Land at Lakeside, Highbridge (121 homes – approved February 2020): in addition to delivering children’s play areas and public open space, the council has insisted the developer provide £345,000 for affordable housing in the event that it cannot deliver the agreed amount (36 homes) under its own steam. A previous issue surrounding the public right of way running through the site has already been resolved, so a decision is expected very shortly. TARGET DATE: June 2021
  6. Land north of the A371 Axbridge Road, Cheddar (100 homes, 60-bed care home, 12 extra care units and employment units – approved November 2020): the approval for this application on the former Yeo Valley site included numerous road improvements, including a connection to the Strawberry Lane, traffic calming measures near the site and a contribution towards improving the nearby “magic roundabout”. A first draft of the legal agreement was published on March 18, but the county council has not yet appointed a solicitor to give its view. TARGET DATE: July 2021
  7. Land south of Houlgate Road, Cheddar (53 homes – approved January 2020): approval was granted on the condition that this site would provide additional on-site parking for visits, along with cycle paths linking up to the wider UK network. A draft agreement could be signed off by the county council in a matter of weeks. TARGET DATE: June 2021
  8. Land north of Blackford Road, Wedmore (38 homes – approved March 2021): this development near Wedmore Church of England First School includes a contribution of £104,000 towards improvements to Pilcorn Street’s pedestrian access. The council’s officers are currently working with the bank to ensure thius contribution can be delivered. TARGET DATE: July 2021
  9. Former Morgan House complex, Mount Street, Bridgwater (33 dwellings – approved March 2021): a total of 33 homes and flats will be delivered on this town centre site, with the developer contributing £15,000 towards the play facilities at the nearby Brewery Field as part of the Northgate regeneration scheme. A draft agreement laying out the various costs of the development was circulated in early-May. TARGET DATE: August 2021
  10. Land at Carrotts Farm Shop, A38 Bridgwater Road, North Petherton (20 homes – approved March 2021): the council accepted a reduced number of homes on this site (down from 36) so long as 15 per cent of the new homes would be affordable and a new on-site play area could be provided. A draft legal agreement is currently being prepared. TARGET DATE: August 2021
  11. Land at Junction 24, Huntworth Lane, North Petherton (motorway service station – approved August 2020): this new service station was approved on the basis that improvements would be made to the nearby road network, including a cycle track to Marsh Lane and the A39 and traffic calming measures in Huntworth. The county council is expected to give its approval to these proposals in the coming weeks. TARGET DATE: June 2021

A council spokesman said: “This update provides an opportunity for our ward members to track progress on these applications, to ensure that outstanding matters are resolved in a timely manner both from an applicant and council perspective.

“Where progress is not considered to be continuing, members can formally request a full update at the following committee meeting, effectively ‘calling in’ applications where appropriate.”


Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter

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