Plan for 250 new homes near M5 motorway unveiled

How the scheme, at Isleport Lane in Highbridge, could look

How the scheme, at Isleport Lane in Highbridge, could look - Credit: Focus on Design

Nearly 250 new homes near the M5 in Somerset could soon be built if new proposals are approved.

Bickenhall Consulting Ltd was granted outline planning permission to build up to 248 homes on Isleport Lane in Highbridge, between the motorway and the town’s main industrial area (including its household waste recycling centre).

While Sedgemoor District Council’s development committee voted to approve the plans in November 2019, the legal agreements between the council and the developer were only signed off in late-February 2022.

Countryside Partnerships PLC, which has now acquired the site, has put forward amended proposals for how the site may be built out – with a decision expected in the late spring.

The site lies north of the B3139 Mark Road, which links the town centre to the Bennett Road and Commerce Way industrial areas, and is allocated in the council’s Local Plan, which runs until 2032.

Access to the new homes would be via Isleport Lane, with a new junction being created with the B3139 and a spine road branching off into the site and a new junction with the rest of Isleport Lane being created.

Of the 248 homes proposed for the site, 74 will be affordable – just about meeting the council’s target of 30 per cent affordable homes for any new major development (i.e. ten houses or more).

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In addition to the new homes, a community hub will be provided in the middle of the site, which could include a number of retail units or a doctors’ surgery.

A spokesman for Focus On Design (representing the developer) said: “The non-residential retail and community uses are proposed to be located towards the heart of the development in a prominent and accessible location.

“This may incorporate a single use or a mixture of shops, community hall, doctor’s surgery, and/ or other uses that are compatible with a residential neighbourhood.

“A large play area is also located towards the centre of the site, complementing the other facilities and providing a logical heart for the new community.”

Isleport Lane in Highbridge, where the homes could be built

Isleport Lane in Highbridge, where the homes could be built - Credit: Google

Much of the delay in signing off the outline plans revolved around the impact of the new homes on Junction 22 of the M5, with National Highways (formerly Highways England) raising concerns that the development would lead to increased congestion on and around the junction.

Under the outline permission, no more than 100 homes can be delivered on the site until the A38 Edithmead roundabout – which links Highbridge to the M5 – has been fully signalised.

Somerset County Council put forward proposals in June 2021 to convert the roundabout into a ‘throughabout’ as part of a programme of work to improve the A38 between Highbridge and Bristol Airport, working in partnership with North Somerset Council.

The district council is expected to make a decision on the new Isleport Lane proposals by the end of May.

In addition to the Highbridge site, Countryside Partnerships is also seeking to deliver 260 homes on Bower Lane in Bridgwater (dubbed ‘Strawberry Grange), with the council expected to sign off on amended proposals in the coming weeks.

If approval is granted, the developer and housing association LiveWest will begin construction on the new homes in the summer, with the first homes being available by late-2023.