At the Somerset West and Taunton Planning meeting on 5th December, councillors unanimously refused permission to develop the site on the corner of Station Road and Home Orchard. Around 20 residents attended, and all 10 of us speaking were against the application.
It was a heartwarming experience as one by one, councillors joined in to reinforce our opposition. Most of them had already been lobbied by Ross Henley on our behalf. About 50 villagers had already registered objections against the proposal, with a handful of others commenting in favour.
The official reasons for rejection are now published on the planning website and are summarised as follows:
1. The development is contrary to policy SP1 (sustainable development locations) and CP6 (transport accessibility). The obvious dependency on private car use was key to this.
2. The level of cross-subsidy of open market housing relative to the affordable housing was considered to be too high according to policy DM2, section 1.10 Exception Sites of the Affordable Housing Supplement document and paragraph 77 of the National Planning Policy Framework
3. The design and layout of the proposal was considered to be poor and not up to the standard as given in policies DM4 and D7
Its worth noting that apart from these compelling official reasons, the planning committee was very concerned with a broad range of environmental issues and sought to take into consideration the upcoming climate emergency plan. They were also unimpressed by the omission of important input from departments such as Somerset Ecology Services, which had highlighted the importance of the site as a wildlife habitat, and potential breach of legislation in the manipulation of the site (destruction of orchard, excessive cutting down of scrub).
Its important that the community stays alert for similar unsuitable planning proposals and I hope that we can set up a group in the New Year to do this and proactively form our own ideas about how the village should develop