Thumbs up for ‘disastrous’ housing plan, despite services reaching ‘breaking point’

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 March 2018

Up to 41 houses will be built off Bristol Road in Churchill.

Up to 41 houses will be built off Bristol Road in Churchill.

Archant

Dozens of homes will be built in Churchill, despite claims village services are at ‘breaking point’, its public transport system is a ‘joke’, and the development spells the ‘demise of rural areas’.

Edward Ware Homes (EWH) was granted outline planning permission to build 41 homes off the A38, opposite Budgens petrol station, after a vote by North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee.

Impassioned speeches from councillors opposed to the scheme fell short of forcing refusal of the plans, which received much criticism from villagers.

Churchill and Langford Parish Council pleaded with the committee to tear up the plans, arguing the village ‘is facing a tsunami of speculative planning applications’ – with consent already granted for more than 250 homes across a number of sites.

The village is also earmarked for a 2,800-home ‘garden village’ in the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), which is seeking to plug the West Country’s housing shortfall over the next two decades.

But villagers’ fears fell on deaf ears in the council planning department, with officers recommending councillors approve the application.

At the February 14 meeting, Churchill councillor Liz Wells said her constituents ‘avidly object’ to EWH’s plans.

She highlighted concerns over employment, flooding and the impact the development could have with ‘village services at ‘breaking point, unable to cope with the influx of people’.

EWH described the site as ‘ideal’ for housing, and a proposal to reduce the speed limit to 30mph on the A38 near the development was revealed.

But Cllr David Shopland described the plans as a ‘recipe for disaster’.

Cllr Ann Harley said people living in rural areas of North Somerset ‘are finding it very difficult’ to cope with ‘impossible’ projected housing growth which would amount to a ‘concrete jungle across our beautiful land’.

She added: “Our public transport service is a joke. Are we really looking at the bigger picture? This is the beginning of the demise of our rural areas.”

Cllr Tom Leimdorfer argued there should have been no ‘urgency’ over the application with the JSP still in development.

He said: “To approve this application would not only go against our own policies, it goes against any sound principles of community building.”

Cllr Bob Garner pledged his support to the application before claiming Churchill is ‘not a pretty village’ and residents of some North Somerset villages ‘are happy’ living in unsustainable developments ‘tucked away in Tickenham or Abbots Leigh’.

Cllr Elfan Ap Rees added there are good employment prospects near the village, with the likes of Bristol Airport and Thatchers looking to expand their workforce.

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