Bridgwater Town Council Planning Panel has voted unanimously to object to the proposed major housing development planned for the green side of Bower Lane. The proposal would see more than 700 new homes built between the M5 and Bower Lane around the junction with the A372 Westonzoyland Road. Town Councillor for Fairfax East, Richard Morgan (Labour) welcomed the decision saying “I’m glad we as a council have objected to this development for several reasons. Too often developers get away with making promises on ‘reserved matters’ so that they can go ahead and start building, only to renege on their promises at a later date citing ‘viability’ as a reason. To my mind viability is just another word for profitability. How can it be that when experienced, wealthy developers get their sums wrong or speculate badly, taxpayers foot the bill and infrastructure and social housing get dropped. Local residents and new homeowners and tenants are then landed with a sub-standard development and all its associated problems forevermore. Amongst other things we need to see more detail on the proposed green lane (Which was used as one of the selling points of this development in the very early stages of consultation with residents).and some solid promises on social housing.”
Cllr Dave Loveridge (Labour, Dunwear North) said “This is far too many houses. The infrastructure simply isn’t there for this number. The Health Service will be under considerable pressure – you try getting a Doctors appointment as it is!”
Cllr Tim Mander (Labour, Westover) agreed adding “The plan says 1,200 houses but in fact what is proposed is 1,600. It’s far too many and the infrastructure isn’t there to support this and service provision is insufficient. Also, the policy for affordable housing states 30% but Sedgemoor rarely achieved this and usually managed 10%. On top of this the environmental impact is considerable with the serious noise levels close to the motorway.”
Lack of Infrastructure
Proposing the objection Town Council Leader Brian Smedley (Labour, Westover) said “This is a gigantic cul de sac in the wrong part of town. There are just 2 routes into the already sizeable East Bridgwater Housing estates and that’s over 2 narrow railway bridges. Building on this green lung between Sydenham and the M5 is just backland development on a major scale. It’s total ‘in-fill’ and yet again with just about all of Sedgemoor’s schemes has zero infrastructure to enable it to happen and so naturally is not looked forward to by existing local residents whose quality of life will be diminished.”
The proposal was put by Cllr Richard Morgan and seconded by Cllr Brian Smedley and agreed 8 to nil.
The Town Council Planning Panel does not have the final say in planning matters but it’s opinion means that if officers recommendations at Sedgemoor -or it’s successor council Somerset Unitary are contrary to it’s views then the Planning application has to be heard in public session and not decided behind closed doors.