The scene in Bridgwater House for the planning meeting

The controversial plan to build 53 homes on fields off Houlgate Way in Axbridge has been waved through by Sedgemoor District Councillors on Tuesday, January 12, 2020.

The vote of 10 in favour and 2 against gives the developers Hannick Homes outline planning permission to go ahead to put forward further plans to get the scheme completed subjected to various provisions.

The proposals can be found at the portal on Sedgemoor DC’s website: look for 02/16/00030.

Cllr Barbara Wells made a spirited appeal to the councillors in Bridgwater House emphasising the excessive size of the development, lack of consultation with locals and the town council and the proximity of the homes to the poultry farm.

In her statement to councillors Cllr Barbara Wells of Axbridge Town Council said: “The purpose of my submission this morning is not to merely repeat the details of the  previous written submissions from Axbridge Town Council, nor to list the 270 other objections that this proposal has generated over the 40 months this application has so far been running. I trust all members of the committee are familiar with the detailed submissions and find the numerous and varied delays to the decision making process acceptable. It has been a source of considerable frustration to the residents of our town.

“Axbridge is a designated Tier 2 community under the Sedgemoor Local Plan with a responsibility to accommodate a minimum of 74 new houses by 2032. Axbridge Town Council is supportive of this and is particularly pleased that a development in Cheddar Road, Axbridge for the provision of 20 affordable homes has been agreed and is progressing.

“However, should the committee agree to this development in Houlgate Way it will, in one hit, almost entirely meet the next 12 years’ need but at what cost? There will be no opportunity to integrate and assimilate new comers on a piecemeal basis. Pressure on schools, roads and other infrastructure such as sewage and drainage, we have one bus service in Axbridge that is constantly under threat from the bus company. The site itself will present a large block of new development when smaller varied developments would be more in keeping with Axbridge.

“We are also concerned that the permission sought is merely Outline Planning Permission with specific details such as design, alignment and style to be reserved matters. The Town has no confidence in Hannick Homes who have not responded to requests for meetings to discuss the concerns of town residents. Two good examples of Hannick Homes unwillingness to engage centre around their plans to simply remove a memorial garden to one of Axbridge’s long term benefactors and their complete disregard of parking issues.  The offer of a public car park accessed seemingly via the estate to balance the loss of at least 18 on road parking spaces in Houlgate Way will not help with existing parking issues in the Town.   

“We also feel that the lack of detail around long term maintenance of public spaces and ponds is a concern to the future public finances; the Town Council is unwilling to take on upkeep and supervision of public space on the estate.

“In summary, the development is too big, lacks local engagement and does not serve the community well.    

“We would like to see permission denied.”

More to follow on this story later.