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SOMERSET: Cannington planning inquiry

SOMERSET: Cannington planning inquiry

CREDIT: Gladman

Residents of a Somerset village have lambasted “ludicrous” plans for more than 150 new homes at the start of a planning inquiry.

Gladman Developments applied in September 2019 to build 165 houses north of the A39 in Cannington, near the Hinkley Point C park and ride facility.

Sedgemoor District Council turned down the outline plans in May 2020, prompting the Congleton-based developer to lodge an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate and a public inquiry being called.

The virtual inquiry got under way on Tuesday morning (November 2), with numerous residents arguing the new homes would compromise pedestrians’ safety and lead to increased congestion.

The proposed development site lies between Oak Tree Way and the park and ride site, just south of the village’s health centre.

Rather than surround the park and ride site entirely, much of the site’s northern edge will be dominated by communal green space near the Cannington Brook, with access being from Oak Tree Way.

The plans were refused by the council’s planning officers under their delegated powers on three counts:

  • Oak Tree Way would be “insufficient to serve as a means of access” due to the “restricted width and poor alignment” of the existing roads
  • Since only one access route is proposed, there would be “limited accessibility” for paramedics and emergency vehicles
  • The proposed layout would lead to more on-street parking and therefore “an increase in conflict between vehicles and pedestrians”

Planning inspector Hollie Nicholls heard from a number of residents of Oak Tree Way and the surrounding residential streets, all of whom raised serious concerns about the proposals.

Chris Putt described Gladman’s application as “woolly”, and said that any emergency access from Denman’s Lane would be “a poor choice”.

He added: “There is overwhelming local opposition to this application. We are not opposing this because of nimbyism – we are opposing it for one reason: the ill-conceived access arrangements.

“At busy times, the Browning Road intersection gets congested very quickly, with vehicles mounting pavements. It is not uncommon to see near-misses because drivers have no line of sight through the bends.

“The estate is a nice place to live – you can bring up your kids here and go cycling. This has been achieved by foresight.

“There will be a foreseeable detrimental affect on our community if these homes are approved.”

Amie Hall, who lives on Oak Tree Way itself, works in the village as a hairdresser and is the mother of three children.

She said: “Our children play out in the street – I don’t want them in on the Xbox all the time. I’ve seen an increase in delivery drivers during the pandemic.

“I invite anyone to come and sit in my living room for an hour – you’ll see the proposed access is ludicrous.

“With 165 homes, and everyone having two cars, there’s an accident waiting to happen on the Browning Road junction.

“I just don’t see that it’s an appropriate place to have access.”

Philip Daniels, who lives on the same street, raised concerns about traffic levels, in light of both the construction period and the approval of other new homes in the local area.

He said: “We’re talking 20 30-tonne lorries, seven days a week for two years – that is a substantial amount of traffic.

“The village’s views are not being taken into account. It’s not just 165 houses – we have another 70 houses which have already been approved.”

Crest Nicholson South West was awarded permission in April to build 73 new properties on the A39 Main Road, east of the existing roundabout at the southern end of the village.

The council’s Local Plan – which allocates sites across the district for housing and employment – stipulates that developers must “provide safe access to roads of adequate standard within the route hierarchy”.

But while the district council can request this from a developer, it is ultimately Somerset County Council as the highways authority which determines whether the agreed standards are being met.

David Stoddart, representing Gladman, argued the county council’s standards were “highly prescriptive” and said the planned access would easily suffice.

He said: “We see no reason why 4.8m wide isn’t a suitable starting point for residential streets.

“We have an existing street layout which has been in place since the 1990s, and there’s not been a single accident reported.

“The site does provide two points of access for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. It’s also well-connected to the local rights of way network.

“Providing a second vehicular access would be detrimental to pedestrians and cyclists.”

Carl Brinkman, the county council’s principal planning liaison officer, responded that the proposed access represented “a backwards step”.

Ms Nicholls visited the site on Saturday morning (October 30), and indicated she would undertake a further informal visit at a time of her choosing after the public hearings had concluded.

Words:  Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter


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