Government inspector to settle Banwell planning row
PUBLISHED: 08:02 23 September 2016
A planning inquiry is being held to decide whether a developer can build 155 homes in Banwell.
Gladman Developments Ltd wants to build off Knightcott Road, but villagers argue it will put too much pressure on the village’s infrastructure.
North Somerset Council rejected the application in July, but Gladman appealed the decision, saying the homes are necessary to meet the district’s five-year housing demand.
But there are concerns the development will add to traffic problems which ‘already plague the village’.
Government planning inspector Neil Pope will make the final decision and, at the inquiry on Tuesday, he said: “The main areas of dispute are whether a five-year supply of housing exists within the district and whether the benefits of the prospective development outweigh any adverse impacts.”
"The development would completely change the character of Banwell as a village."
He will assess the development’s effect on the quality of life in Banwell as well as its character and appearance.
Last year the council was told by the Secretary of State that 20,985 homes must be built in North Somerset from 2006-2026, but the council had planned for 14,000 homes and there is now a backlog.
Giles Cannock, Gladman’s planning barrister for the inquiry, argued the Knightcott Road development is key to meeting housing demand.
He said traffic concerns could be addressed through financial agreements with the council, which would also see money spent on public rights of way, libraries, schools, allotments and orchards.
Mr Cannock highlighted the development will create 150 full-time jobs and see a construction spend of £16million.
He said: “Given the Government’s plan for growth these economic benefits are important; they should be awarded significant weight.”
But Timothy Leader – the council’s barrister – said the project would cause ‘substantial harm’ and the need to meet housing demand should not ‘trump’ other concerns.
He added: “The development would fill the last of the land between Banwell and the hamlet of Knightcott, causing Knightcott to lose its separate identity and resulting in Banwell sprawling into Weston, losing its character as a village.
“Residents will rely heavily on the use of a car to access services, which will add to the congestion which already plagues the village.”
Village resident Karen Langford spoke at the inquiry, and said: “The proposed development will generate extra cars which will add to the existing traffic problem.
“The development would completely change the character of Banwell as a village.”
The inquiry will finish on Tuesday and Mr Pope will write up his decision.
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