New housing scheme for Congresbury approved

PUBLISHED: 13:00 20 January 2016 | UPDATED: 13:32 20 January 2016

Anita and Peter Tonks.

Anita and Peter Tonks.

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A North Somerset councillor has said communities such as Congresbury should be considered as ‘urban areas’, after plans to build 14 homes in the village were approved.

Planning officers recommended Strongvox Homes’ application to build the houses in Venus Street was refused by councillors, but committee members described the plans as a ‘natural progression’ in the village and gave the developer the go-ahead.

Strongvox had lodged an appeal against the council after the authority took too long to decide the outcome of the application. The council’s decision to approve the plans means it will not oppose Strongvox’s plans should the developer continue with the appeal process.

Strongvox can now either continue with the appeal – which will see the application finalised by a planning inspector and will give residents the chance to have their say – or submit a brand-new application for outline planning permission.

The application had been recommended for refusal as officers felt it was in an unsustainable location outside Congresbury’s settlement boundary, but councillors felt the developer’s plans were acceptable.

Clevedon East councillor David Shopland said: “This is a natural progression of the village boundary and I see nothing wrong with it. Congresbury and Banwell and Churchill are not villages – they are now urban areas.

“Villages are something like Weston-in-Gordano or Kenn – these are halfway in-between. If you live in a village you would think nothing of walking up to eight miles a day to go to school.

“People should have to walk.”

The council’s executive member for housing, Elfan Ap Rees, said: “It is only 14 houses and some (of them) are affordable, which we really need in the district and in Congresbury.”

Congresbury’s district councillor Tom Leimdorfer opposed the development and said although there was nothing wrong with building 14 houses, this development was in an unsustainable location and was situated too far from the centre of the village.

However, Clevedon South councillor Bob Garner said: “I am all for development in Congresbury and I think this is a lovely development. It is ideal for a young couple with two jobs commuting to elsewhere – it is perfect.”

Anita and Peter Tonks’ house overlooks the site and the couple said: “We find this intolerable, unfair and unacceptable.

“The decision to allow development was made with scant regard for planning legislation. It appeared to be based upon the idea that individual service villages should take their share of development, regardless of the merits of the application.

“We have worked hard all of our lives, enabling us to retire early and be self-sufficient, only to have the planning authority drive a coach and horses through the planning system and our best-laid plans.”


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