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60 homes approved despite concerns over 'lack of common sense'

Image and video from Bruton Town Council

South Somerset councillors have been accused of having 'no common sense' after they approved plans for new homes in Bruton.

The Acorn Property Group put forward outline plans for 60 houses off Brewham Road, a short distance from the busy junction with the A359.

South Somerset District Council’s area east committee refused the plans in October, agreeing with locals that the new homes would be 'deadly to pedestrians' because the road was too narrow for a suitable pavement.

But a separate committee has now overturned the decision, arguing the new pavements being provided would make the local area safer.

Numerous residents voiced their concerns at a meeting of the council’s regulation committee in Yeovil on Tuesday morning (November 19).

The regulation committee has the final say on any planning application for ten or more homes which has been refused by the relevant area committee (east, in this instance).

Ewan Jones, chairman of Bruton Town Council, said the town already had 'creaking infrastructure' which would not be improved by the plans.

Test Of HGV Trying to turn Into Brewham Road from the A359. CREDIT: Bruton Town Council

He said: "Bruton welcomes sustainable and innovative development.

"We know what the community wants - there is a clear for two- and three-bedroom homes, and a need for more social rent."

James Hood added: "The scheme now before us is not even a good scheme - it is merely an adequate scheme. 

"With the declaration of a climate emergency, ‘adequate’ is no longer good enough."

As part of the proposals, a new priority system will be put in place, with a pavement running along the southern edge of Brewham Road between the access road and the A359.

The town council produced a video to demonstrate how difficult it would be for HGVs to navigate the A359 junction without either hitting pedestrians or damaging the nearby listed Toll House.

Rob Griffin, who farms in the Bruton area, said Brewham Road would become more congested as a result of the homes.

He said: "You cannot put more traffic on the road and make the road smaller - it is just going to cause problems."

Councillor Sara Dyke warned that people would still use their cars to reach the town centre rather than walking either along the new pavements or up from Darkey Lane.

She said: "The planned access from the scheme onto Darkey Lane is not going to encourage people to walk into town. 

They will jump in their cars - where people are going to park, I have no idea."

But despite these concerns being raised, a majority of committee members spoke in favour of the plans, arguing the new pavement would be safer than leaving the road in its current state.

Councillor Tony Lock said: "That junction is used by residents at the moment, and I feel that the improvements to the junction will make that area safer."

Councillor Mike Stanton added: "It is really difficult to balance, but we do need the affordable housing, so we’d best get it.

"If Acorn comes back and reduces the amount, I will oppose that."

After nearly two hours of deliberation and discussion, the committee voted to approve the plans  - prompting one member of the public to mutter: "They’ve got no common sense."

A reserved matters application, which will determine the housing mix, designs and layout within the site, is expected to come forward in 2020.

 

By Daniel Mumby, local democracy reporting service

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