Is North Somerset set for more village housing after council is defeated in inquiry 'disaster'?
PUBLISHED: 14:00 21 October 2016
In the wake of the Sandford inquiry result, concerns have been raised that more large development and 'deterioration in the quality of village life' is imminent.
Strongvox Homes has secured permission for up to 118 homes in the village and elsewhere there are multiple developments are in the pipeline for Yatton, Churchill, Langford and Congresbury.
North Somerset Council deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees delivered a damning assessment of the inquiry result at an executive meeting this week.
He said: “I really need to issue a major warning to members, what happened in Sandford is a disaster. It is a disaster for this authority.”
Cllr Ap Rees also urged his peers to support the council’s site allocations plan, which is currently under consultation. The plan could give the council more control over where houses are built.
He added: “If we do not meet our five-year land bank in the sustainable ways which have been put forward in this document, every village in the district will be subject to developers applying.
“We have to keep control of our development agenda.”
Winscombe and Sandford Parish Council chairman Mike Williamson fears a precedent may now have been set.
He said: “The parish council’s decision to oppose this application when it was originally submitted was based on North Somerset Council’s planning policies.
“The inspector leading the inquiry has clearly decided that other issues outweigh such policies and we will have to live with that decision.
“This may have set a precedent and opened the floodgates to future applications.”
John Whitewood, member of North Somerset Villages Alliance and spokesman for Churchill and Langford Residents’ Action Group (CALRAG) said he feels the council has been ‘backed into a corner’ by Government targets, which require 20,985 homes to be built in the district by 2026.
He said: “Future developments will not be sustainable and will lead to the deterioration in quality of village life.
“The developments are driven by speculators like Strongvox who are in it for their own gain.
“It is very difficult for North Somerset Council; on this application it tried its best.
“I’m worried if we don’t protect our villages for generations to come, there aren’t going to be villages to protect.”