SOMERSET: Tatworth homes deferred
Councillors have delayed a decision on plans for new homes in a small Somerset village to allow road safety concerns to be addressed.
Land Allocation Ltd. applied to build a combined total of 48 homes across two adjoining sites on Fore Street in Tatworth, near Chard.
South Somerset District Council’s area west committee took umbrage with the plans when it met on Wednesday evening (September 15), arguing the planned access points were unsafe and the development would harm local wildlife.
The committee ultimately voted to defer a decision for up to two months to see if a solution to these issues can be found through negotiations.
Fore Street lies at the northern end at Tatworth, connecting the A358 Axminster Road from Chard to the B3167 Perry Street, which serves as a vital back road to Crewkerne.
The sites comprise agricultural lane between Manor Farm Close and Loveridge Way, being separated by hedgerow and an existing bungalow called Sunnyside.
Rather than provide a single new estate with one access point, the developer put forward two separate plans – 35 homes on the western site, and 13 on the eastern site, with each having its own access road onto Fore Street.
Councillor Martin Wale – whose Blackdown and Tatworth ward includes the sites – described the plans as “nonsensical” and said the road was already too dangerous to accommodate this kind of development.
He said: “The county council’s highways team recommended that these two sites would be safer with one exit.
“Anyone travelling from the Chard side, from the A358, will come down Waterlake Road into Fore Street and then turn right onto Langdon Way – it’s the only way to get into the village.
“Yards from the entrance of this site is the start of the 20mph zone. It’s there because this is supposed to be a safe route to school. Increasing the traffic on here strikes me as being very unwise indeed.
“Jenny [Kenton, who represents the same ward] and I went down there some time ago and had a scout about. I was crossing from Sunnyside to join Jenny on the pavement opposite, and I had to break into a run because a car came around the corner. It’s a blind bend.
“This is a dangerous road, and the fact that you’re going to have not one, but two entrances on it – I find that unbelievable.”
Councillor Jenny Kenton (who represents the same ward) laid out her fears about the environmental impact of the plans in a statement read out in her absence.
She said: “This site is full of biodiversity. The water way is clear and the area is ideal of barn owls, slow worms and grass snakes.
“We cannot possibly think that replacing this field with houses will not replace this abundance of wild plants with tailored lawns and flower beds.
“During the recent floods, the properties at Lower Coombes were badly flooded, and Holway Road was torn up.”
Councillor Sue Osborne – who represents the neighbouring Windwhistle ward – argued the local road network could not cope with extra traffic, pointing to the impact of 200 homes currently being constructed on the A358 Tatworth Road in Chard.
She said: “I think everyone knows the roads through Tatworth and Forton are quite narrow. Has any study been done on the impact of extra vehicles on the road network, including the A358 at South Chard?”
In addition to the 200 homes in Chard being constructed by Tilia Homes (formerly Kier Living South West), permission is in place for Summerfield Developments to build a further 94 homes on the adjoining site to the south.
Further plans for 252 homes between Tatworth Road and the B3162 Forton Road, put forward by Persimmon Homes South West, are expected to be decided by the council’s regulation committee before Christmas.
On top of all these proposals, the Crossman Group recently completed a public consultation on plans for up to 100 homes on the B3167 Perry Street at the southern end of the village.
Councillor Tricia O’Brien added: “When all these houses are built, where are these children going to school? Tatworth Primary School is at capacity, along with every school in Chard.”
The committee voted to defer a decision on both plans by a margin of nine votes to zero, with one abstention (Councillor Oliver Patrick) and one councillor being absent (Councillor Martin Carnell).
The council will now negotiate with the developer to address the highways and biodiversity issues, with the plans expected to come back before the committee in November at the earliest.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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