Bridgwater Town Council Planning Panel today backed calls from Westover Councillor Brian Smedley to say ‘enough is enough’ to any more housing in the overdeveloped area of Bridgwater’s Old Taunton Road and to save what land was left their for community use, open space and leisure. An application to put 4 new dwellings on the old disused allotment site alongside the canal was opposed by the Town Planning Panel supporting residents and other community groups.
Cllr Smedley said “The piece of green land here is overgrown and was a former allotment. There are major problems of access, which would be alongside the dangerous canal bridge which is tricky enough for pedestrians and cyclists never mind adding several more houses into the mix. The point here is that Old Taunton Road is on peak capacity and developers should simply stop ‘infilling’ and instead provide breathing space, recreational land and a community area for this part of town. It’s also true that RTL money from the previous developers here was meant to offset the impact of that development by providing community facility as compensation but in fact this money went to the other side of Hamp which was of no use here in Westover. We need Sedgemoor to accept a formula that identifies compensation funding for developments right here and one of the most hard pressed parts of Westover is right here in Old Taunton Road.”
Cllr Kathy Pearce said “after all the development at Turner Close and Manley Close over the years, a children’s play area should obviously have been provided many years ago. This application has acted as a catalyst to prompt a fresh look at providing play facilities. Discussions with Sedgemoor District Council, local Housing Associations and land owners are essential so that we can work together to identify the best site possible and make it happen.”
Campaign for a Children’s Play Area
Old Taunton Road resident Emma Porter has been leading a campaign for several months now for a Children’s play area and has been drawing up plans and bringing her community together to fightback. Emma says “There is no reason why we can’t build a Community Hub/unit and landscape it like a small picnic park with benches. And then use the land by the bridge for a small play area and maybe some raised beds to plant vegs etc for local children to help, learn and grow.”
Emma recently joined ward councillors at a meeting with Sedgemoor District Council to make the case for a children’s play area and other community facilities in the area and was promised action but was to be dissapointed when a month later there had been nothing back from the meeting. She wrote firmly to SDC Corporate Director Doug Bamsey “Firstly, can I ask when this meeting will be as have had no confirmation whatsoever. Secondly, can I have an update on what was discussed in the meeting regarding the land owned by Bridgwater Memorial Homes (which suddenly had ANOTHER planning application put in shortly after our meeting). Thirdly, can I have another meeting quite urgently to discuss next steps, my new plans for the playground etc, and also why Sedgemoor District Council can fund the majority of the play development on the Bower estate, yet cannot help fund a play area which at the very least could use the £25,000 that was in the RLT2 funds from Barratts. Furthermore, we had our meeting back in the beginning of September and I have heard nothing since. I think this is very poor correspondence on a matter that is of great importance to our community.”
Cllr Smedley has also written urging a swift response by Sedgemoor and urged them to take the matter seriously.