Affordable homes approved for Wedmore
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Somerset’s most expensive village will soon get some new affordable homes – despite concerns they will not meet local need.
Strongvox Homes is currently constructing 35 homes off the B3139 Blackford Road in Wedmore near Cheddar, to the east of the village school.
The Taunton-based developer has put forward plans for a further 38 properties, which would see this site extended to the north and provide 15 new affordable dwellings.
Sedgemoor District Council has now ruled that this 'phase two' development may proceed, despite residents questioning whether the kind of affordable housing being built will meet the needs of local families.
The plans were debated at a virtual meeting of the council’s development committee on March 2.
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Keith Boulnois, planning secretary for the Isle of Wedmore Society, said the development would deliver the wrong kind of affordable properties for locals.
He said: “This does not fulfil local housing needs. It provides 15 affordable units where the identified need is 18. There is no evidence of need in your own housing assessment for eight one-bedroom units, as proposed.
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“This application provides no three-bedroom units and only one four-bedroom unit. Nine families in Wedmore will fail to have their needs met while there is an over-supply of smaller homes.”
As well as delivering affordable homes, the development will contribute £104,000 to improving the footpath on Pilcorn Street, which leads from the school into the centre of the village.
Councillor Will Human, who represents the Wedmore and Mark ward, said the village would struggle to cope with further homes without better amenities.
He said: “Wedmore has already undertaken 119 new builds in the last year or two since its neighbourhood plan was passed.
This new extra part will represent an extra 30 per cent on top of that – in Bridgwater that would be the equivalent of 1,000 homes.
“The infrastructure just cannot cope with more homes. The roads are very tight, and is very small indeed here where it spills out onto Blackford Road.
“Already the school is full, the surgery is full and there are no local services which can accommodate the new people.”
Other councillors, however, welcomed the new provision of affordable housing and praised the design of the proposed development.
Councillor Kathy Pearce said: “On the face of it this development is very attractive. But both sides have made very compelling cases. It seems to boil down to the demand for affordable housing.”
Councillor Graham Granter added: “A lot of rent-to-buy is out of people’s reach. I think this is an excellent development with everything you could wish for in terms of green credentials and open space.”
The committee voted to approve the plans by a margin of nine votes to nil, with one abstention and one councillor being absent due to technical issues.