SOMERSET: Dunball services plans
CREDIT: Sedgemoor District Council
A new services area near Bridgwater is having to be redesigned due to land ownership issues dating back to the construction of the M5.
The Euro Garages Group is currently constructing a new petrol station, a Starbucks drive-thru and a KFC branch on the northern side of the Dunball roundabout near Junction 23 of the motorway.
The new services will eventually expand with further outlets, with motorists being able to access it from both the A38 Bristol Road and the A39 Bath Road.
However, due to legal issues, the company has been unable to make progress on the latter exit – and applied successfully to Sedgemoor District Council to change the plans so the facility can still upon on time.
Under the original plans approved in November 2019, the two access roads to the new services must both be completed before the site can open to the public – a two-way exit onto the A38 and an entrance-only slip road on the eastbound side of the A39.
Planning officer Adrian Noon explained the company’s position at a meeting of the council’s development committee in Bridgwater on Tuesday morning (October 12).
He said: “The A39 entrance was considered essential as part of this development, to serve both the detailed bits [currently under construction] and the outline element [future units].
“It is unfortunate that it cannot be delivered now to the timing of the opening. There is difficulty with third-party ownership running alongside the A39, left over from when the motorway was built – which goes back to 1975.
“It is quite difficult to get the legal agreements in place at a county level to get the road built to the county council’s standards.”
The company said it was confident that it could resolve the legal issues and deliver the A39 access road within six months – but Councillor Kathy Pearce did not share this enthusiasm.
She said: “I really don’t share optimism that this could be resolved in months – legal issues can take years.
“I’m really concerned about the temporary access dragging on and on and on, and the impact this could have.
“I also fail to see the need for another petrol station when there’s one across the road.”
In addition to changing the access arrangements, the developer also applied to extend the opening times to the drive-thru outlets.
Councillor Bill Revans said: “This is a bit of a pickle, to put it mildly. I think this is a good, pragmatic solution to move this forward.”
After around 45 minutes’ debate, the committee voted unanimously to approve the plans.
In addition to the Euro Garages proposals, the entire Dunball roundabout could be upgraded in the near-future in a bid to ease congestion and unlock land for future housing and employment.
The council voted in February to borrow up to £4.7M to turn the roundabout into a ‘through-about’, with an unspecified amount being allocated to the project as part of the £22.6M Bridgwater town deal.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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