Grand plans back on track

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 October 2011 | UPDATED: 11:06 04 October 2011

Archant

PLANS to build 900 homes and a retail, leisure and business park on the edge of Weston are back on track after proposals to turn the site into a village green were turned down.

Persimmon Homes wants to create the ambitious Weston Airfield development, which would include a hotel, pub, restaurant and crèche, but its plans came under threat from a group of villagers.

They wanted the site off Locking Moor Road to be turned into a village green, but councillors rejected the idea at a meeting last week.

North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee was told it would face a strong legal challenge if it were to officially grant village green status to the land and make the Persimmon development difficult.

A planning inspector heard evidence from both sides in April, but the final decision rested with the authority.

Three members of Locking Parish Council originally made their case for making the area a village green and they were supported by a petition carrying hundreds of names.

Although only 30 per cent of the area Persimmon has earmarked for development was involved in the controversy, the developer said losing the space may have had a big impact on the viability of the scheme.

Councillor David Shopland said during the regulatory committee meeting on September 21: “We should support the development of green space.

“But Weston has sunk its own ship in that respect.

“There doesn’t, however, seem to be a legal reason here to allow the village green.”

Owners of the nearby Helicopter Museum objected to proposals to turn one part of the area being requested into a village green because the area around the control tower is used by the charity for storage.

Councillors were also told at the meeting that a green, open space would form part of the development.

A report produced on the matter for last week’s meeting said: “The inspector concludes in his report that the applicant has not demonstrated, on the balance of probabilities, sufficient qualifying use of the land to merit it being registered as a village green.”

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