Westover councillors Brian Smedley and Steve Austen are now members of the Town Council Planning panel. This body meets monthly and is able to make comment and raise objections to planning applications that affect Bridgwater before they get forwarded to Sedgemoor District Council’s Development Control Committee for a final decision.
On the agenda this month were two applications that affected Westover ward. Firstly the proposal by ASDA stores to finally do something with the former doctors surgery on East Quay (which Sedgemoor scandalously included in the original sweetener deal with them and which has been left derelict ever since). The proposal is for the development of an automated Petrol Filling station and related mix use development. Although the site is in Eastover ward the impact across the river into Westover ward is a key factor and so our members have a critical interest.
Eastover councillor Julian Taylor commented “The proposed development is close to two conservations areas. Any such development must be sympathetic to these areas and the town centre. The proposal has not addressed the major issue with the ASDA site. The need to allow easy pedestrian access from the ASDA site to Eastover and the Town centre. The proposal also needs to be fully integrated into the Eastover development plan agreed by the Sedgemoor District Council.”
Westover councillor Brian Smedley said “The visual impact across the river from West Quay is something that needs to be got right. With the focus of the town turning more towards the river and big plans afoot for regenerating Eastover as a shopping destination we musn’t be railroaded into some quick fix solution just because Asda doesn’t have a petrol station. The site is currently a key grot spot in the town and it’s neglect sends the wrong message. Something needs to go there , but something that fits and is in keeping with the strong river frontage that we’re developing”.
The Asda planning application can be viewed and commented on at 08/14/00083/RB
Another planning application, this time in the Westover ward itself, is the proposed change of use to the former Broadway taxi office on the West Bow crossroads. The proposal is to change the now disused taxi office to a takeaway (Broadway taxis having moved slightly further down into Friarn street). With the development of the Bar Brunel on that corner, which most would agree is a welcome addition to the night time economy, it nevertheless would be situated alongside this and the exit doors to the Palace nightclub, which can be a lively spot into the early hours of the morning on some nights.
Cllr Smedley said “Ward councillors will have to take into consideration residents feelings on this one. The general view is that they are not very keen on yet more fast food places that will stay open late and encourage people to linger around longer rather than go home. The new taxi office already has a burger van parked on it’s lot and he sometimes opens at night. There needs to be a balance between businesses that add to the night time economy but which could potentially increase the amount of anti social behaviour that they are subjected to already.”
Members also took into consideration objections on heritage grounds and added these to their observations. The Broadway Takeaway application can be viewed at 08/14/00081.
Cllr Steve Austen added “Ward councillors have on many occasions objected and/or supported planning items at Development committee stage and their input can be crucial so we would urge people to let us know their views.”
The next Town Council Planning panel meeting is Thursday 14th August 10am.