"Worst ever" homes appeal

Plan of proposed housing

Masterplan for 40 homes on Old Bristol Road, East Brent. - Credit: Clifton Emery Design

A housing development dubbed “one of the worst” ever planned for Somerset could still go ahead despite being universally rejected by local councillors.

East Brent LVA LLP applied to build 40 new homes on Old Bristol Road in the village of East Brent.

Sedgemoor District Council’s development committee unanimously refused the plans in August 2020, claiming they were “driven by ignorance and avarice.”

But the developer has now lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate, meaning the council’s decision could end up being overturned.

The development site is classified by the Environment Agency (EA) as being in flood zone three – meaning there is at least a one per cent chance of it being flooded in the future.

To counteract this, the developer proposed importing 30,000 cubic metres of soil to the site, raising the whole area by one metre.

More than 300 local residents objected to the proposal, arguing the plans would increase the risk of localised flooding and damage the neighbouring properties.

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Speaking at a development committee meeting on August 18, 2020, Kevin Bray said: “The EA has deemed the land to be a flood risk and the land will need to be raised. The excess water will run off and flood the properties nearby.

“The noise and vibration from the piling of the soil used to raise the land will be detrimental to residents’ health and their 18th-century properties, which do not have foundations.”

Councillor Andrew Gilling, the council’s portfolio holding for housing, stated at the same meeting that the proposed changes to Old Bristol Road would put people at risk.

He said: “The proposed width reduction at the western end of Old Bristol Road would render this site inaccessible, including to waste vehicles.

“I have seen some pretty horrendous applications. This is one of the worst I have ever had the misfortune to come across – driven by ignorance of the local community and by avarice.”

Details of the developer’s appeal were published ahead of a development committee meeting scheduled to take place on January 12.

A spokesman for the developer said: “The scheme will provide new housing in a sustainable location to help Sedgemoor District Council meet local need and contribute to the delivery of housing of all types across the district.

“It will also provide large areas of public open space for new residents and the creation of public open space with views of Brent Knoll and Crook Peak.”

Due to ongoing restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, a decision on the site is likely to be taken by written representations rather than a formal public inquiry.

The Planning Inspectorate is expected to publish its ruling later in the year.

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