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‘Harmful’ housing plans go under microscope at inquiry

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 November 2017

CRAG hopes the council's decision is upheld by the inspector. Photo by Jeremy Long.

CRAG hopes the council's decision is upheld by the inspector. Photo by Jeremy Long.

Archant

A inquiry into a housing development which could ‘harm’ a North Somerset village was held this week.

Strongvox Homes and North Somerset Council were locked in debate over the developer’s plans to build 24 homes in Congresbury.

The development, which is set for land to the east of Brinsea Road, was rejected by the council in February due to concerns over sustainability and its potential impact on the landscape.

But Strongvox called on the Planning Inspectorate to get involved, hoping it will overturn North Somerset’s decision and grant outline planning permission.

An appeal hearing under the supervision of inspector Gareth Thomas began at Weston’s Royal hotel on Tuesday.

More than a dozen members of Congresbury Residents’ Action Group (CRAG) attended the hearing, and representatives spoke of their objections to Strongvox’s plans.

CRAG members also joined the inspector and the interested parties on a site visit yesterday.

Council planning officer Emma Schofield told the inquiry the plans do not comply with North Somerset’s Core Strategy policies, which are the rules which planning applications must conform to.

She said: “The council considers the development site is in an unsustainable and remote location outside of the settlement boundary.

“The second reason for refusing is the impact on the character and appearance of the area. The proposed erection of up to 24 new dwellings represents a form of development which would be out of keeping with the rural landscape, and would result in harm to the rural setting of the village.”

Ahead of the inquiry Strongvox said there is ‘no evidence to suggest that the harm resulting from the appeal proposals comes anywhere close to significantly and demonstrably outweighing the benefits’.

And at the hearing, its representative Michelle Berrington said the plans were ‘entirely appropriate’.

The inspector is expected to take several weeks reviewing the respective cases before delivering a verdict in the new year.

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