‘Sensitive’ housing scheme turned down by council

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 February 2016


A developer’s plan to build 54 homes in Congresbury has been dealt a serious blow after North Somerset Council’s planning committee rejected the proposal.

Developer Sunley Estates Ltd had applied for outline planning permission to build the homes off Cobthorn Way and the council’s planning officers had recommended the application for approval.

The development would have included 16 affordable homes and a significant area of public open space if it had been given the go-ahead by the council’s planning committee, but concerns about traffic access and drainage following a visit to the site led councillors to turn the plan down.

Congresbury’s district councillor, Tom Leimdorfer, was praised by village campaigners for his ‘outstanding’ speech against Sunley’s plans.

The leader of the Green-Independent group on the council said the scheme would be too large for the village to cope with and felt that any considerations given to the development’s provision for green space should not be looked upon favourably.

He told the planning committee’s meeting on February 10: “The lower end of this site is a flood plain.

“There would be no chance of any development standing up to a flood, so there could be no possible development there.”

As the application had been recommended for approval by the council’s planning department, councillors will be required to consider it again at the committee’s next meeting before the refusal decision is finalised. However, the news was still met with delight by the Congresbury Residents’ Action Group (CRAG), which successfully fought against an application for 80 homes from Barratt Homes last year.

CRAG member Susan Hibberd, whose home in Wrington Lane is close to the site in question, told the committee to refuse the application on the grounds of access, landscapeing issues and biodiversity.

Ms Hibberd also said the council’s fight to clear its five-year housing backlog meant rural communities were under threat from developers.

She said: “This is a sensitive site and the scale and density of the development goes far beyond what could be accommodated. If settlement boundaries are set aside to meet the backlog, does that mean all rural sites are recommended?”

CRAG chairman Mary Short said: “We are very pleased with the committee’s decision. I think this shows the importance of a visit to the site because councillors can then make an informed decision.

“Cllr Leimdorfer’s performance was outstanding.”

However, not all councillors agreed with the decision. The council’s executive member for housing, Elfan Ap Rees, said the proposed development could provide an ‘opportunity’ for villagers to buy a house within their existing community.

He said: “We have got affordable homes and five bungalows here (with this plan) and getting bungalows is very rare in major developments.

“There is an opportunity there for retired people and local people in Congresbury.

“We have also got a mix of family homes so it is a very interesting development, and it only takes up a very small part of the site.”

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