THE FATE OF PLANS: Station Road appeal dates
The fate of plans for 200 new homes near Castle Cary railway station will be decided at a public inquiry this summer.
Wyke Farms and Hopkins Development put forward outline plans for the A371 Station Road – one of the last undeveloped green spaces between the station and the town centre.
South Somerset District Council refused the plans in May 2020, arguing the homes would create “a highly conspicuous scar upon our countryside” – a decision which the developers subsequently appealed.
The Planning Inspectorate has now confirmed the matter will be settled at a virtual planning inquiry in July, with a final report being expected by the end of the summer.
Castle Cary railway station lies on two major rail routes through the West Country – the mainline between London Paddington and Taunton, and the slower stopping service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.
The station welcomed around 278,000 passengers per year before the coronavirus pandemic, and is a popular means of travel to the Glastonbury Festival, being the closest rail link to the Worthy Farm site.
The plans were refused by the council’s area east committee in May 2020, with committee members sharing residents’ concerns about over-development, the loss of picturesque landscape and the impact on the quality of life of both new and existing residents.
Councillor Colin Winder stated at the time: “These 200 houses will produce in excess of 100 cubic metres of sewage a day – where will this be stored?
“The sewage works of all our small towns are overworked. We’re dumping raw sewage in the rivers, and I don’t like it.”
Councillor Lucy Trims added: “This is situated in the centre of a wraparound road – I don’t feel it’s a healthy place for people to live and children to grow up.
“We know that asthma cases are increasing in this country. I can’t see how mechanical ventilation [of these properties] can be acceptable.”
The developers have promised that 70 of the 200 homes would be affordable, meeting the council’s target that 35 per cent of all homes within any new development of ten homes of more should be sold below the market rate.
Ian Roach of Roach Planning and Environment Ltd (representing the applicants) said the development would offer “significant benefits” in addressing the housing crisis.
He said : “This is an area where there is a substantial and chronic need for affordable homes. There are currently nearly 2,000 households on the council’s housing register.
“A significant boost in the delivery of affordable housing is absolutely essential to arrest the housing crisis and prevent further worsening of the situation.
“As people begin living in the new homes, they would provide increased patronage to local shops and services, increased patronage to the railway, and an additional labour source for the existing and growing employment market in the settlement.”
The developers have promised to provide nearly £171,000 for early years education and nearly £1.1M for new primary school places if permission ends up being granted.
The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed the virtual hearings will begin on July 13, with the proceedings expected to last four days (not including an official site visit by the appointed inspector).
The hearing will be live-streamed via the council’s official YouTube channel, in the manner of the ongoing hearing into plans for 60 new homes on the Manor Farm site in Templecombe.
Anyone wishing to make a representation ahead of the Bayford Hill hearing should visit www.acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk, searching for appeal reference 3259668.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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