Developer resurrects plans which would ‘harm’ village

Knightcott Road, Banwell.

Knightcott Road, Banwell. - Credit: Archant

Plans for a near 50-home housing estate – which villagers feared would be unsafe and a ‘burden’ on infrastructure – have been resurrected by a developer after it called on the Government to get involved.

Bourton Ltd has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in hope of reversing North Somerset Council’s refusal of its outline planing application for the former Western Trade Centre in Banwell’s Knightcott Road.

The developer hoped to secure permission to build 47 houses at the former car dealership, but the proposal was widely criticised by villagers before North Somerset tore up the plans in January – citing ‘significant harm to the rural landscape character of the local area’ and concerns over the impact on Banwell’s busy roads.

A smaller application for 20 homes has since been submitted by Bourton Ltd, but the firm believes the 47-home project should go ahead and hopes the council’s decision is overturned.

The appellants’ statement of case said: “The appeal scheme seeks to provide housing on previously-developed land in an accessible location which is an inherently sustainable proposition when compared with other options of developing greenfield land in the open countryside in less sustainable locations.

“The proposal would not cause significant harm to the rural landscape character of the area.”

Bourton Ltd also argued there is a shortage of housing in North Somerset and the council is not meeting Government five-year targets – and therefore the scheme should be approved.

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The Planning Inspectorate has proposed the inquiry should take place on December 11, and it is likely it will be held at Weston Town Hall – but this is yet to be confirmed.

Banwell Parish Council criticised the proposal last year when the blueprints were first brought forward, with Cllr Paul Blatchford arguing it would be an ‘isolated and unsustainable development outside the settlement boundary’.

He added: “It can only be a burden on the village amenities without providing any benefits and there would be negative consequences on the traffic problems of the village.”

Cllr Paul Harding raised concerns over traffic safety, with ‘cars going at 70-80mph along there even though the limit is 40mph’.