Somerset industrial estate to be demolished - for 38 new homes
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A Somerset industrial estate that has blighted neighbours with issues for decades is set to be levelled to make way for 38 new homes.
The Gatcombe Farm Industrial Estate, at Wrington, has endured a “tortuous and lengthy” planning history but developer Aberdare Estates said its new ownership offered a chance to draw a line in the sand.
North Somerset Council has approved the demolition of the eight single-storey concrete buildings so they can be replaced with homes – only three of which would be “affordable” as some of the premises are vacant – and office space.
Aberdare Estates said in its application: “The scheme will bring about a much needed environmental improvement. It will transform a problematic commercial and industrial site into a landscape-led, ecology-rich, high-quality mixed-use development.
“It will also eliminate, once and for all, a site which has challenged neighbours and the local planning authority through uses which will, if the application is granted consent, no longer feature on the site.”
The buildings were originally erected for a mushroom farm but over the last 30 years have been taken over by numerous small businesses, some creating environmental problems and antisocial behaviour.
Since 1989 different unauthorised and intermittent uses such as airport car parking and the storage of scrap vehicles and more recently people were living on the three-hectare site, according to the council, and several enforcement notices have been served.
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Aberdare Estates said in its plans: “There is no doubt that if the proposed scheme were to be permitted, the downward spiral of decay and underinvestment in the site would be halted.
“The residential amenity of neighbours would therefore be significantly improved.”
There have been numerous unsuccessful attempts to build homes on the land and in February 2019 permission was granted for mixed industrial usage.
Aberdare Estates’ plans were met with 13 objections and 27 letters of support.
Both sides welcomed the redevelopment of the “complete eyesore” but opponents said the village infrastructure could not cope with more homes and raised concerns about road safety and access.
One supporter said: “Unfortunately, the site has encouraged unwelcome visitors at all hours, noise and light pollution intolerable at times. Crime has also been an issue and I can quite honestly say that on many occasions I, family members plus visitors have not felt safe walking through the site.
“This application provides the community with an opportunity to finally see the removal of the derelict and troublesome site with all its dubious issues and move forward so we can be proud to refer to Gatcombe Farm, where the community showed they were not against housing in their village if it was in the right place, i.e. a brown field site.”
Approving the application, council planning officers said the impact on the green belt would be reduced and provide homes to meet North Somerset’s shortfall.
They said because the buildings are vacant, affordable homes are not required but Aberdare Estates is providing three anyway.