By Harry Mottram: With outline planning permission granted for the development of a new housing estate off Houlgate Way betwixt the health centre and Townsend Farm (the chicken farm) residents have become concerned about the changes.

One part of the development would see the two mature trees on the road felled along with a cut in the number of places to park cars on the road. The poster put up by a concerned resident is an attempt to draw the attention of residents to the reality of the proposed planning application made in 2020 when councillors in Bridgwater voted it through by a margin of 10-2.

Very few people attended the crucial meeting in Bridgwater when the district council made the decision to potentially build on the green space save that of Cllr Liz Scott and the town’s Mayor Barbara Wells. The received wisdom is that councillors who do not live in an area set for development will vote for it as happened here but they won’t vote for it if it is in their locality.

Harry Mottram Comment: In my experience it is rare a planning proposal is rejected due to pressure from residents. Sometimes a compromise plan is put forward but traditionally the development goes ahead – eventually. The alternative is to vote for candidates or parties at elections who oppose building on green field sites. One of the uncomfortable truths is that county or district councils say they oppose green field developments but often pass them as it means more council tax for them.

Below are some reports I have made in the past.

For those interested in the plans to build homes off Houlgate Way and the town council’s views on the matter then in the minutes of the Town Council meeting of December 12th 2022 under Appendix A there is plenty of food for thought – repeated below.

Axbridge Town Council’s Response – Houlgate Way Reserved Matters
application 02/22/00021/DT
RESOLVED: that Sedgemoor District Council be advised that Axbridge Town Council
objects to the above-mentioned application on the grounds of appearance,
landscaping, scale and layout as set out below.
In any new planning application, Axbridge Town Council would expect the
development to be of a high quality design and energy efficiency, with an appropriate
and inclusive mix of affordable housing. Furthermore, it would expect the development
to meet high standards for traffic management and parking, whilst looking after the
environment and wildlife. These aspects should all, at the very least, be in accordance
with both the Local Plan and the Axbridge Neighbourhood Plan.
This is particularly important for such a large development, in a prominent gateway
position into the Town, abutting a conservation area and close to listed buildings.
A public meeting was held on 7 December 2022 attended by approximately 50
members of the public. The meeting was constructive, focusing on the reserved
The Town Council consider the application, as it stands, falls short of these general
requirements and objects to the proposed development as follows.
• The appearance and design of the dwellings should include a variety of
features to truly reflect the vernacular within the nearby conservation area;
there should be a wide variety of materials, features and a mix of muted
colours to reflect both the importance of the setting (which is a gateway into
the Town, bordering the conservation area and close to listed buildings) and
work with the neighbouring countryside. The Town Council supports the preapplication advice given by the planning officer in respect of the design and
materials for the dwellings.
• The new dwellings should meet higher levels of energy efficiency – this
should include solar panels and electric charging points for all properties, with
infrastructure put in place for ground source heat pumps.
• The proposed play area is of a sub-standard quality and the Town Council
supports the comments made by the Parks and Open Spaces Team (18th
November 2022) in terms of the concerns relating to the basic features, the
materials proposed and longevity of the site. The play area, and public open
space, is an important aspect and should be of better quality and well
managed now and in the future. (The Town Council would seek clarification
as to how these areas are going to be both managed and financed.)
• The Town Council seeks assurance that the quality of the street lighting will
match those currently in place in the Town.
• Clarification is sought on the reference to 27 “bird houses and bricks” – in any
event, there are insufficient numbers of bird boxes and bee bricks and these
should be increased to promote biodiversity.
• Given the location and scale of this development it is vital that existing
hedges and trees are retained as much as possible (a development in
Cheddar has seen hedging repositioned rather than removed) and better
landscaped, including protecting the conservation area to the north side of
the site (abutting Compton Lane, in front of Compton House – which is a
listed building). The Council supports the comments made by the
Conservation and Landscaping Officers on this matter when responding to
the outline planning application 02/16/00030 (letters dated 20th November
2017 and 30th July 2019 respectively) and does not feel this had been
adequately addressed.
• The proposal indicates that the pumping station would be surrounded by a
high metal fence. This is close to two of the properties and seems an
insufficient and unsightly method of screening this facility. There is also
concern that this facility will be noisy – affecting nearby properties.
• The proposed development is predominantly 4 bedroom dwellings. The
Council considers that there should be a bigger variety in terms of the size of
the homes. Larger dwellings do not help those starting out, or those wishing
to retire, and smaller 1, 2 and 3 bedroom dwellings would make the
development more affordable and provide more room for parking without
detrimentally affecting green spaces.
• There does seem to a reasonable spread of housing sizes in relation to the
affordable housing dwellings – the response of the Affordable Housing Officer
is awaited.
• The illustrative plan within the outline planning application provided a better
layout for the dwellings, in terms of spacing, mix and integration of properties.
• The position of the affordable dwellings is of concern, being ‘stuck’ at either
end of the site. The Town Council would expect these to be better integrated
within the development.
• The Council is concerned about the position of the pumping station. It is very
close to properties.
• The parking standards are not met – with insufficient parking being provided
for the number of dwellings planned. This is not in accordance with policy.
The assessment of the parking need is based on the 2011 census which is
• Parking is one of the most difficult issues in the Town and so the new
development also needs to address the issue of the car parking places lost
due to the long length of double yellow lining to be introduced on Houlgate
Way for visibility at the site access points.
• The small car park area intended for visitors is not accessed directly from
Houlgate Way as expected, but only through the housing estate and via, as
far as the Council is aware, a private road (shared access, not public
highway). Its hidden position will not be accessible/used by the public/visitors
to the Town and the provision of sufficient parking is vital to the Town’s
sustainability. The location and size of the proposed parking area is not
• Since the online planning application was approved, the bus service has
been greatly reduced (there is no longer a bus service to Weston-superMare) and the remainder of the bus route to Wells is seriously under threat.
This greatly limits the travel options of those living on the site, further
exacerbating the issues with traffic, car ownership and parking.
• The introduction of the double yellow lines and the proposed layby areas will
result in an increase in speed along Houlgate Way which is a major concern.
This issue is not addressed in the application.
• The play area should be sited away from a busy road for health and safety
• The proposals should include/offer improved public footpath links to Cross
(alongside Cross Lane).
In addition, the following concerns associated with the application have been raised
by the community which we wish to bring to your attention. (They are shared by the
Town Council).
• Tier 2 classification – the Tier 2 allocation is queried given the loss of
amenities such as the bus service to Weston (and the threat to the remaining
part of the service) and the imminent loss of the only local bank in Cheddar.
Can this be revised?
• Infrastructure – the development will result in an increase of approximately
10% of the population bringing increased pressure on local services and
infrastructure (school, doctors, dentist, sewerage and drainage).
• Sewerage, drainage and flooding – there are serious concerns that the
systems in place/proposed are not robust enough to address the increased
loads on them and need major work undertaken before the development
takes place. There will be serious issues if the sewerage system and water
systems are not enhanced, and flooding is of concern, given the position of
the site and previous experiences. The Town Council seeks assurance that
the authorities involved (including Bristol Water and Wessex Water) are
satisfied that with the arrangements, that works will be undertaken to address
the issues and ensure that the systems are robust, and that all works will be
carried out in accordance with the S106 agreement.
• Travel and Connectivity – further clarification/information is sought on travel
coordinators, travel vouchers and improvements to connectivity
• Proximity of the Chicken Sheds and Gas Powered Facility – the proximity of
these facilities to the siting of the proposed dwellings is of concern in terms of
both health and environmental issues (noise, dust, smell and contamination).
The plans showing the fall out from the gas powered facility appear to overlap
the development site.
• Construction concerns – there are concerns relating to the parking of
construction and workers’ vehicles during the construction process and
health, and environmental issues (dust, contamination). The Town Council
seeks assurance that these are addressed in a construction plan.
• Street Naming – the Town Council (and community) would welcome the
opportunity to put forward street names for the development.
• Delivery of the development – there is some concern that the developer will
not deliver on their plans, conditions and promises – exacerbated by the fact
that the developer sign is larger than the permitted size and mentions only 4
and 5 bedroom dwellings, together with the unauthorised removal of the
hedge and lack of parking provision. Monitoring by the planning authority is
• Community Infrastructure Levy – The Town Council seeks confirmation as to
the amount of the Community Infrastructure Levy to be received by the Town
Council – the form on the website is blank.
The Town Council is still receiving comments on this application and will bring these,
and any further matters raised, to your attention during the application process.


The view from the top of the site looking down with Houlgate Way on the left

Axbridge News: the clock is ticking to register a comment on the Houlgate Way proposed housing development

By Harry Mottram: Sedgemoor District Council’s planning department has said anyone wishing to make a comment on the proposed Bellway Homes development in the town have until February 15, to do so.

The land to the south of Houlgate Way could see 53 new homes constructed with 30% of them listed as affordable housing. Previously it had been for outline planning permission since the plans were submitted again in November the proposal is for ‘Approval of reserved matters, for appearance, landscaping, layout and scale for the erection of 53no. Dwellings (30% affordable housing).’

It is understood that Houlgate Way may lose 18 parking spaces on the road along with the felling of two mature trees to make way for the development.

To register a comment, visit the Sedgemoor District Council Planning Portal and key in the Application Number 02/22/00021. You must include your name and address and your comments will be in the public domain.

The proposed planning application was in 2020 when councillors in Bridgwater voted it through by a margin of 10-2. It was opposed by Cllr Mike Murphy of Burnham-on-Sea who said having 125m distance between the farm and the homes was unacceptable. He said: “Would the planners accept a proposal to build a chicken farm next to a housing estate? No.” He demanded a site visit before any vote which was ignored. Cllr Revan of North Petherton also opposed the plans at the vote in 2020.

District Cllr Liz Scott raised the issue of extra traffic and the loss of parking spaces in Houlgate Way as well as the ‘high visual effect’ the development would have on the town especially in relation to the Grade II listed Compton House which would be next to the new estate. She raised the issue of land drainage and of a footpath as well as saying that under a Tier 2 settlement all the requirements had to be met which she said had not on a number of levels listing a number of points – all rejected on technicalities by the planning officer.

The then mayor of Axbridge and town councillor Barbara Wells also spoke against the plans. She said at the time: “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.”

One of the main objections is the site is outside of the Axbridge settlement boundary and is not allocated for housing within the council’s Local Plan, which runs until 2032. Another issue is the site since 2020 has been sold to Bellway by Hannick. Bellway are based in Newcastle upon Tyne and are marketing the Houlgate Way development as Lavender Rise with a selection of four and five bedroom properties – the firm is also behind the current development at Helliers Lane in Cheddar.

Sedgemoor District Council will cease to exist on April 1 when there will be one unitary council – Somerset County Council.

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