Westover Planning Issues July 2015

charlotte westwood
Conservation officer in conversation with Councillors Leavy and Morley at Town Planning Panel.

At today’s Town Planning Panel Westover and neighbouring ward issues came up aplenty . The ward is represented on the panel by Councillors Pat Morley and Brian Smedley and the panel is chaired by Victoria councillor Mick Lerry.Other members present included Liz Leavy & Peter Johnstone from Wyndham ward and Leigh Redman from Dunwear ward.

Also at today’s planning panel was the newly appointed Sedgemoor Conservation officer Charlotte Westwood. Charlotte had been in post since June 16th having previously worked in Monmouthshire and most recently with the Royal Household at Windsor castle where she was in charge of ‘enforcement’ matters. ‘Excellent’ we thought, just what some local developers need. ‘Hanging’.

What next for the Hope inn?
What next for the Hope inn?

The Hope Saga Continues

Cllr Smedley reported to the meeting as Chairman of the Community Assets Working Party that the previous meeting was urging developers follow a policy of trying to preserve at least the façade of any iconic local building of merit into any new development. This was particularly the case with the ‘Hope Inn’ on Taunton road, the ongoing saga of which is now drawing to a head with the latest application to demolish the 1930’s mock Tudor building and replace it with 22 appartments. Members were unanimous in objecting to this, citing problems for entrance and egress with traffic along the busy A38, the impact on the streetscape, unrealistic parking proposals and the overshadowing of the neighbourhood with what is effectively a hideous monstrosity and totally out of keeping.

Mayor Redman with the Admirals Court in the background
Mayor Redman with the Admirals Court in the background

Dock windows

A good example of a building of historic note being converted whilst retaining it’s traditional structure is the warehouse alongside the docks now known as Admirals Court. The Panel had to consider an application to replace 77 windows and 30 doors. The proposal was UPVC, white and ‘like for like’. Members felt this was a missed opportunity and urged use of powder coated aluminium and a colour more in keeping with the character of the building. The feeling was that UPVC had a limited shelf life and it wouldn’t be long before they were back asking again.

Private parking in West street

West street is mainly Westover….apart from a few houses on the right side opposite Westfield Church which is Wyndham. Mrs Kirk at Number 118 West street had asked to create an access with parking and a turning circle alongside her house in a patch of largely overgrown and disused land . This was supported.

Town Clerk Alan Hurford digs out 'yet more files' while Leigh Redman and Mick Lerry prepare to wield the hammer of the people. Well, make a few comments.
Town Clerk Alan Hurford digs out ‘yet more files’ while Leigh Redman and Mick Lerry prepare to wield the hammer of the people. Well, make a few comments.

Opticians Gets a Make-Over

At number 50 St Mary street (the opticians) they wanted to convert part of the building (parts of the ground floor and first floor) into a 2 bedroom flat. The Panel was initially concerned at potential loss of town centre retail space but accepted that there remained adequate for an opticians to function there, however it was in a conservation area opposite St Mary’s church and the façade needed to be in keeping.

Helibars to the rescue

Around the corner at no.2 Fore street the Co-operative group had spotted damaged masonry and potential structural movement and so sought to rectify it through the installation of helibars to the front parapet. The Panel urged the use of Lime as the appropriate mortar and recognised the intention was to save the building and so supported the move. (of the application not of the buiding..)

The view from West Quay towards Asda 'Filling (station) the gap'.
The view from West Quay towards Asda ‘Filling (station) the gap’.

Asda way to wreck a lovely view

A more contentious issue was the plans by ASDA stores to insert an aed filling station onto the site of the former East Quay Medical centre. This already had planning permission but we had previously objected in order to try to prevent them ploughing into some demolition process before they dealt with the road infrastructure and for fear of the loss of a key riverside view. Trees needed preserving as a screen. The panel felt the filling station was a bad move in a town centre location and some felt Sedgemoor had made a major mistake in giving the site to ASDA as part of it’s original deal-especially as the promise was for retail use of the building as a ‘George’s’. On this occaision they were seeking a variation of their conditions, so we objected and insisted on a safe and suitable highway system in place first.

A County Council officer tries out the new Wembdon road crossing
A County Council officer tries out the new Wembdon road crossing

Toucan play at that game

Good news for Wembdon road traffic safety campaigners as County had decided to upgrade the crossing there to a ‘puffin’ crossing. This involved dropped the pavement to road level and widening the pavements. There was some concern about the narrowing of the busy road and also reference to the often overgrown foliage on the nearby gardens obstructing motorists vision nearby, but the site needed addressing as it was a main crossing point for Westover Green school.

Nightlife in Bridgwater about to get another boost.
Nightlife in Bridgwater about to get another boost.

Nightlife on the Penel Orlieu

A final matter refered to the Panel was a licensing issue. The Remedies bar on Penel Orlieu would be re-opening and had applied for extended hours including Wednesdays; until 3 in the morning-albeit with some self imposed restrictions on volume and tempo of music. The Panel insisted on consistency of times along the same street so as not to produce unfair advantage, athough a proposal by Cllr Smedley to restrict time signatures to 7/8 to prevent ‘dancing’ was ignored.