In a depleted room full of coughs and sneezes the Bridgwater Town Council Planning Panel met to consider local planning applications before they went to Sedgemoor for decision. Westover Councillor Brian Smedey reports from the meeting.
First up was a controversial bid for the erection of dwellings to the rear of 3-7 North street including access and parking. Residents were not happy with the proposal which seemed like backland development, including elements of overshadowing and included considerable disruption to wildlife habitat. A submission by Cllr Kathy Pearce (Westover) made the following observations. “Impact on neighbouring properties: We believe the application, as it stands would have a detrimental effect on neighbours by impacting on a legal right of way for neighbouring properties. Plus, three x three bedroom properties on this back garden site would seem to us be over-development. Environmental concerns: The ecological survey has revealed evidence of Japanese Knotweed. Account needs to be taken of how this plant will be disposed of so as not to spread into the neighbouring properties. The survey also states that there should be a precautionary account to ground works, bearing in mind the trees and hedgerows on this site and points out that it is offence to damage or destroy a nest when being built or in use (ref: Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981). It also points out there are habitats considered to have site value. We therefore believe that this site requires sensitive treatment because of the issues raised by neighbours and the Ecological Survey and that unles these matters are resolved this application, as it stands, should be refused. ” The Panel recommended rejection.
On West Quay the new landlords at number 7 were keen to do their bit to enhance the shopfront by removing a metal grill from the shop window, repainting the shop front, installing a couple of lamps either side of the door and various other upgrades. The Heritage group had urged a relook at the colour scheme and a removal of the satellite dish – which didn’t actual work or belong to anybody anyway. Members supported the works and recommended approval.
A proposal to install an emergency back-up electricity generator in land alongside the Telephone Exchange in George street was supported after it became clear that use would be limited and noise would be negligible.
A large Wych Elm tree overhanging Homecastle House in Chandos street from land to the rear of the Lions Club on West Quay was in need of secondary growth removing. This was supported.
Similarly trees were for the chop at the former Police Station where a couple of Norway Maples needed the crowns raised and/or stumps ground out in order to facilitate the already agreed residential development by McCarthy and Stone. “It’s got to happen as they’ve got to build” said Wyndham councillor David Baker.
The Panel had 3 applications from Gibbins Richards of 17 High street and opinion was divided. The shop front had been replaced on a listed building in a conservation area and a request to retain these changes was submitted. The Panel was not happy at the retrospective action.
Cllr Pat Morley (Fairfax) said “This totally ignores the listed nature of the building and missed and opportunity to enhance the High street.”. A statement from the Heritage Group referred to it’s “unsightly appearance” and “out of keeping”. On this base refusal was recommended. However the committee clashed on a 3rd submission which simply referred to the new fascia sign. Councillors Smedley and Morley argued for consistency and urged rejection but lost the vote 2.3.
The meeting also received news of 2 previous decisions being over turned by Sedgemoor planners. We had urged rejection of the illuminated signage around the Nat West bank – but SDC had supported this, and worse, the Town’s position of opposing the Paddy Power bookies on the Cornhill had been ignored by SDC and planning permission approved. A slight victory only had been achieved by the insistence of a compromise colour of ‘heritage green’ instead of the proposed yellow.
The panel were also informed of some TRO’s (road traffic orders) which included some overnight works on the ‘Chandos Bridge’ for resurfacing. The Panel seemed ok with that as it would be unobtrusively done through the night, yet a major disagreement broke out over the name of the bridge. “I’ve always known it as the Sainsbury’s bridge because they paid for it” said Cllr Smedley – who was backed up by Cllr Baker, however, Town Clerk Alan Hurford insisted that on maps it was known as Chandos bridge but conceded “This may in fact refer to the nearby railway bridge….”