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Housing estate to be built close to ‘dangerous junction’

PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 October 2017

The housing development will be built on the right-hand side, opposite the supermarket.

The housing development will be built on the right-hand side, opposite the supermarket.

Archant

More than 20 houses will be built just yards from a ‘dangerous junction’.

The Smallway and A370 junction in Congresbury has witnessed many accidents over the years. Photo by Jeremy Long. The Smallway and A370 junction in Congresbury has witnessed many accidents over the years. Photo by Jeremy Long.

Freemantle Developments will build up to 21 houses off the A370 in Congresbury, 80 yards from accident blackspot Smallway.

The plans were called in for review by the council’s planning and regulatory committee (P&R) after concerns were raised over the safety of access to the site.

P&R discussed the plans at its meeting in September, but voted to defer a decision to its meeting on October 11 to allow other access options to be explored.

Last month many councillors expressed fears with the proposed access, which would feed onto 
the A370 opposite Tesco Express, with Cllr Chris Blades saying the plans for the ‘most dangerous junction in North Somerset screamed danger’.

But after going back to the drawing board, Nick Warfield, of Freemantle, told P&R ‘there was absolutely no justification to change the design’ of the plans, which were approved by the council’s planning experts.

And councillors agreed, overwhelmingly voting to grant outline planning permission.

Congresbury councillor Tom Leimdorfer – one of the few representatives to oppose the scheme – had ‘severe doubt’ over the safety of the access, despite the proposals being policy-compliant.

He said: “The road safety audit identified three problems: safe exit, safe entrance and pedestrian safety given the traffic.

“Smallway is a dangerous junction. Highways don’t often use the word dangerous, but it is a dangerous junction.

“I would have real difficulty in supporting this as it stands without being absolutely sure every alternative has been explored.”

But Cllr Elfan Ap Rees said the ‘clear evidence from independent advisors’ convinced him the access plan was the best option.

Cllr Leimdorfer also pressed for more affordable housing to be included, proposing an amendment which would see two of homes changed into four flats, upping the number of affordable homes to meet the standard 30 per cent threshold, but his efforts failed.

He added: “If we allow 10 per cent here, we are not going to get affordable housing almost anywhere in the villages. You are tearing up your policies on affordable housing on small sites.”

Cllr Ap Rees, however, said: “We’d love to have more affordable housing, but when it comes down to viability, we’re getting the best we’re going to get.”

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