Developers and council clash over jobs ruling
PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 December 2010
A PROPOSED development of homes and offices in Weston which would provide jobs for up to 450 people is on the verge of collapse because of ‘unviable’ conditions laid down by the planning authority, it has been claimed.
Bloor Homes and Dowlas Developments were given permission to proceed with their plan for the employment-led regeneration at Diamond Batch, to the North of West Wick, earlier this year.
But the developers say a condition set by North Somerset Council that 75 jobs must be provided for every 50 properties built, after the first 50 houses are occupied, has put the whole scheme in jeopardy.
After failing to persuade members on the local authority’s planning and regulatory committee to overturn the requirement last week, directors have hit out at the councillors, claiming their decision could cost Weston hundreds of jobs.
The companies had wanted to amend the condition so 2,000sq metres of employment space would not have to be delivered until the first 180 homes had been built.
Andrew Driscoll, of Bloor Homes, said: “It beggars belief that a council on one hand claims to be committed to attracting employment to the town and the on the other makes it impossible for a development which will do just that to go ahead.One has to wonder where the priorities lie.”
Councillor Mike Kellaway-Marriott stood by the decision made by the planning and regulatory committee, which he sits on.
He said the need to kick-start providing jobs at the site along with housing development was essential for the employment-led regeneration of the area.
He said: “We have a history in the town of providing residential developments, and not the employment to match it.
“This is about getting a guarantee for the town of employment and providing what’s best for the constituents in Weston, many of whom we see leaving the town every day for work.
“In general I understand the situation developers are in but not in this case, with so many people interested in this site and with it being a prime site for a hotel and public house right by a dual carriageway.
“I do not understand, frankly, what the problem is.”
Bloor Homes and Dowlas Developments claim a marketing campaign to fill the employment area of the proposed site was a success, with one business indicating the potential to move in, creating 350 jobs.
However, the developers now say the proposal is in danger and they are considering an appeal against the councillors’ decision.