SOMERSET UPDATE: More than 2,200 new homes waiting on decisions
Decisions on more than 2,200 new homes in Somerset remain in limbo nearly 18 months into the coronavirus pandemic.
Somerset’s four district councils – Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West & Taunton and South Somerset – are responsible for making decisions on planning applications, deciding where new homes should be delivered across their respective parts of the county.
Numerous large developments across Somerset have been approved since the pandemic began – including the Saxonvale regeneration scheme in Frome, 190 homes at Jurston Farm in Wellington, and 94 homes on the A358 Tatworth Road in Chard.
A number of these developments have been approved but construction has yet been able to start due to outstanding legal issues – including more than 1,800 homes across multiple sites in Sedgemoor.
But nearly 18 months on from the start of the first national lockdown, the fate of many other plans remains undecided – either because of the Dutch N ruling on phosphates or because of other outstanding issues.
Here are 15 sites, covering a total of 2,207 homes, where the big decisions are being held up:
- Lyngford Lane in Taunton (347 homes): Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes first put forward plans for this site in north-east Taunton back in April 2019. Located near the Nerrols Farm primary school, it will see a new roundabout created at the junction with Cheddon Road, with Lyngford Lane to the south being closed off. Emergency and pedestrian access will be maintained, so parents living on the new site can walk or cycle to the nearby school with their children.
- Little Keyford Lane/ B3092 The Mount in Frome (325 homes across three sites): this development comprises three neighbouring sites, all of which are listed within the Mendip Local Plan. Wainhomes plans to build 70 homes to the east of Little Keyford Lane, with David Wilson Homes putting forward revised plans for 255 on two sites either side of the B3092 The Mount. Responses on all three applications are still being received, including from Somerset County Council’s public rights of way team – so it is unlikely a decision will come before the end of the summer.
- B3151 Somerton Road in Street (280 homes): Outline plans for this site were brought forward in December 2019 by the Ninesquare Trust, a Baltonsborough-based charity which owns this site. The trust has already given out £400,000 in grants and will use the proceeds from the development to fund further grants to local voluntary organisations. Little progress has been made with consultation since April 2020 – though issues surrounding land drainage could soon be resolved, making a decision more likely.
- A358 Tatworth Road, Chard (252 homes): these plans by Persimmon Homes South West have been repeatedly delayed, with the first iteration (comprising 315 homes) being submitted back in July 2016. The number of homes has now been reduced to 252, but there remain issues to resolve surrounding the delivery of new schools within the Chard Eastern Development Area (CEDA), as well as traffic levels and funding for local GP surgeries. The council’s regulation committee was due to decide the plans’ fate on June 1, but this meeting has now been pushed back to later in the year.
- Tintinhull Road, Yeovil (185 homes): This site lies a stone’s throw from the major Brimsmore development which is currently being built out at Yeovil’s north-western edge. Gladman Developments put forward plans in November 2019, showing the homes wrapping around the existing garden centre with a new access onto Tintinhull Road rather than the busy A37 towards Ilchester. The plans were due to be debated by South Somerset’s area south committee in September 2020, but were removed from the agenda due to the Dutch N fall-out – and little progress has been made since then.
- Staplegrove West urban extension in Taunton (phase one, 173 homes): Around 1,600 homes will be built within the Staplegrove urban extension, which was approved in two parts in October 2017 – Staplegrove West (713 homes) and Staplegrove East (915 homes). These revised plans by Redrow Homes are for the first 173 homes on the western site, with a portion of the spine road that will eventually link the A358 to Kingston Road. While issues surrounding funding for the spine road and primary school appear to have been resolved, the county council is still to give its view on the road’s final design, including the crucial A358 junction.
- B3168 Station Road, Ilminster (150 homes and employment units): The former Horlicks factory site at Ilminster’s western edge has been earmarked for developments for a number of years. Dairygold Co-operative Society Ltd put forward these plans in January 2019 for 150 homes on the northern side of the B3168 Station Road and a range of employment units (including a car showroom and a drive-thru) on the southern side. The council and developer have agreed an extension to the consultation period, with a decision now expecting in the autumn at the earliest.
- Cheddon Road in Taunton (150 homes): Gladman Developments was originally refused permission for 180 homes on this site in July 2019, with the council’s planning committee ruling it would damage the natural environment and was outside the Taunton settlement boundary. The developer submitted the same plans for the same number of homes in October 2020, but has subsequently reduced the number to 150. Little progress has been made on the public consultation since December 2020, so a decision before the end of 2021 is unlikely.
- B3151 Lower New Road in Cheddar (115 homes): These proposals, put forward by Gladman Developments, would see large amounts of green space retained at the site’s western edge, with the homes lining a new access onto the B3151. The site lies opposite the contentious Steart Farm development site, where Sainsbury’s put forward plans for a further 60 homes (which the council refused in March, but lost the resulting appeal). Amended plans were put forward in March 2021, including proposed traffic calming measures, so a decision could be made by the end of this year.
- Lympsham Road in Lympsham (50 homes): Strongvox Homes has put forward these plans for the Beavers Lodge Farm site in Lympsham, at the northern tip of the Sedgemoor district. The proposed development is located a short distance from the A370 Bridgwater Road, leading to Weston-super-Mare, and will include 20 “local needs affordable homes” – a higher percentage than the council normally expects from a commercially-led development. There has been little progress made on these plans since late-2019, with no formal extension to time agreed with the developer.
- Warminster Road in Beckington, Frome (45 homes): This site lies between the recently-completed Shepard’s Way development, the village’s tennis courts and the busy A36 leading to Bath. Stonewood Partnership (based in Badminton) wishes to create pedestrian access to Shepard’s Way as well as preserving the existing woodland between the site and Goose Street. As of late-May, statutory consultees are still responding – but a decision before the end of the year may still be possible.
- West Camel Road in Queen Camel (43 homes): This proposed development wraps around existing comes on West Camel Road and is within walking distance of Countess Gytha Primary School. The land owned beyond the development extends far beyond the school on the other side of the road – meaning this could be the first phase of a major expansion of this village not far from the A303. The council and developer have agreed to extend the consultation period until October 31 – meaning it is unlikely we will get a decision before Christmas.
- B3139 Wells Road in Wedmore (34 homes): This proposed development by C&P Developments (Wedmore) Ltd. will be built to the south of existing allotments near the Mendip Scouts Base, with a new access onto the B3139 Wells Road being created. The dwellings will comprise 30 regular homes and four self-built plots for more bespoke housing. No formal extension of time has been agreed, but the last responses received from formal consultees were received in December 2020.
- Dancing Lane, Wincanton (31 homes): Hopkins Developments won outline permission on appeal in 2015 to build up to 55 homes on this site near Wincanton Community Hospital. These revised plans reduce this number to 31, with the existing parking for NHS staff being relocated. With more information coming in over the last few months from the police and the county council’s highways team, a decision on this is increasingly likely to come before the end of the summer.
- Fortescue Fields in Norton St Philip (phase two, 27 homes): phase one of this scheme was approved back in 2011, delivering 51 homes on the former chicken processing factory. Phase two was originally due to comprise 38 further homes, but Lochailort Investments withdrew these plans in June 2020 following public criticism. A decision on these revised proposals could come before the end of the year, with issues surrounding affordable housing provision currently being discussed by planning officers.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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