Campaigners hope village edge will not be targeted by more ‘speculative’ builders

PUBLISHED: 06:38 23 December 2017

Congresbury Residents' Action Group (CRAG).

Congresbury Residents' Action Group (CRAG).

Archant

A developer’s housing scheme would have caused irreparable ‘harm’ to the environment had dozens of homes been built, according to a planning inspector.

Inspector Gareth Thomas this week refused to grant Strongvox Homes permission for its 24-home proposal for Brinsea Road in Congresbury.

North Somerset councillor Tom Leimdorfer said the decision was ‘excellent news’.

After chairing a one-day hearing last month, Mr Thomas ruled against Strongvox, citing concerns over the safety of pedestrians walking from the houses into the centre of the village and a lack of public transport.

He added: “Overall, the substantial environmental harm arising from the development would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the socio-economic benefits.”

Congresbury Residents’ Action Group (CRAG) worked with the council at the appeal.

Its chairman Mary Short said: “CRAG is not opposed to all development – we are certainly in favour of social and affordable housing. But that is for the village and local authorities to decide where it is appropriate – not speculative builders.

“Residents have to live with the bricks and mortar of new housing and we are best placed to comment what is and what is not appropriate. We are delighted the inspector supported our view.

“This is the third time CRAG has been involved in fighting decisions and three times the inspectors have recognised we know local conditions and tell the truth about what they are.”

Two years ago Barratt Homes wanted to build 80 homes off Brinsea Road, but also lost an appeal.

Cllr Leimdorfer said: “It (the Strongvox refusal) really should put an end to any thought of a new development proposal on the west side of Brinsea Road.

“It also helps us to maintain one of the key policy principles of the emerging draft neighbourhood plan which envisages no development on the south side of the village.”

Strongvox’s scheme received 110 objections and such support was invaluable, says CRAG.

Secretary Viv Tomkinson said: “On behalf of CRAG I would like to repeat our heartfelt thanks to all of those who supported us at the hearing and those who submitted comments.”

Strongvox has been approached for comment but failed to respond before the Mercury went to press.

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