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Council approves plan to build 21 homes yards from accident blackspot

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 October 2017

The housing development will be built on the right-hand side, opposite the supermarket.

The housing development will be built on the right-hand side, opposite the supermarket.

Archant

Plans to build more than 20 houses near the ‘most dangerous junction in North Somerset’ have been approved.

The Smallway and A370 junction in Congresbury has witnessed many accidents over the years. Photo by Jeremy Long. The Smallway and A370 junction in Congresbury has witnessed many accidents over the years. Photo by Jeremy Long.

Up to 21 homes will be built off the A370 in Congresbury near Cadbury Garden Centre after Freemantle Developments won planning permission from North Somerset Council.

The new estate, which was approved by the council’s planning and regulatory committee (P&R), will sit just 80 yards from accident blackspot Smallway.

Councillors originally raised concerns over the safety of access to the site, which will feed directly on to the A370, meaning the plans were called in for review by P&R.

The plans were originally discussed at its September meeting, where many expressed concerns, including Cllr Chris Blades who said the plan to build near the ‘most dangerous junction in North Somerset screamed danger’.

A decision was deferred until October 11 to allow the developer to explore other access options.

But after going back to the drawing board, Nick Warfield, of Freemantle, told P&R ‘there was absolutely no justification to change the design’, which was approved by council experts.

And councillors agreed, overwhelmingly voting to grant outline planning permission.

Congresbury councillor Tom Leimdorfer – one of the few representatives to oppose the scheme – had ‘severe doubt’ over the safety of the access, despite the proposals being policy-compliant.

He said: “The road safety audit identified three problems: safe exit, safe entrance and pedestrian safety.

“Smallway is a dangerous junction. Highways don’t often use the word dangerous.

“I would have real difficulty in supporting this without being absolutely sure every alternative has been explored.”

But Cllr Elfan Ap Rees said the ‘clear evidence from independent advisors’ convinced him the access plan was the best option.

Cllr Leimdorfer also pressed for more affordable housing to be included, proposing two of the homes were changed to four flats, upping the number of affordable homes to meet the standard threshold, but his efforts failed.

He added: “If we allow 10 per cent here, we are not going to get affordable housing almost anywhere in the villages. You are tearing up your policies on affordable housing on small sites.”

Cllr Ap Rees, however, said the affordable housing deal was ‘the best we’re going to get’.

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