People power wins the day

THRILLED residents in Cheddar and Draycott are celebrating, after a controversial proposal which would have caused 'a scar on the landscape' was thrown out

THRILLED residents in Cheddar and Draycott are celebrating, after a controversial proposal which would have caused 'a scar on the landscape' was thrown out. Sedgemoor District Council voted against a proposal by Wells' resident Mike Pearce to build a caravan park at Nylands Crossroads, between the two villages. Members of protest group Save Open Land In Draycott (SOLID), who attended the planning meeting on Tuesday, are delighted with the outcome. SOLID spokeswoman Sue Wall, who lives at Abbis Farm, which overlooked the proposed development, said: "We are all so happy the application has been declined. We collected over 521 signatures objecting to the plans and more than 150 letters from individuals who were against the proposal were received by the council's planning department. We are delighted our concerns have been listened to."We would like to thank all Draycott and Cheddar residents for their support and help in fighting this proposal. We are thrilled that Sedgemoor planners took the views of both communities into account when coming to a decision."The planning application was to build 10 lodges, 40 caravan pitches, toilets, showers and a camping area on a 13-acre site along the A371. A pond, wetland areas to encourage wildlife, a nature trail, flower meadow and apple orchard were also included in the proposal. Speaking at Rodney Stoke Parish Council in January, Mr Pearce said he had lived in Rodney Stoke for 23 years and was aiming to provide a family friendly, up-market campsite. He said he picked the location because it had good road access and was close to the Mendips for walks and cycle routes.Sue Wall added: "If Mr Pearce decides to appeal the decision SOLID will fight. We will be keeping our website running and residents will be more than willing to battle the application again."The land is located on the boundary of an area of outstanding natural beauty. It would have caused a scar on the landscape and destroyed the visual impact of the view from the Mendips across Nyland Hill. The site is the last remaining green space between Draycott and Cheddar. To grant permission would have meant total urbanisation south of the A371."Now future generations will be able to enjoy the green agricultural land." Mr Pearce was unavailable for comment about Sedgemoor's decision before the Somerset Mercury went to press. TIMELINE* 18 JAN 2007 - Mike Pearce gives a presentation to Rodney Stoke Parish Council about his planning application to build the caravan park. * 6 FEB 2007 - Mr Pearce's planning application is received by Sedgemoor District Council. Campaign group SOLID is formed. The group launched the website www.solid2007.com and invited people to sign a petition against the proposal. * 27 FEB 2007 - Protestors and residents attend Rodney Stoke Parish Council planning meeting. Mike Pearce gave a presentation at the meeting and several protestors voiced concerns. The council was asked to give its opinion on the caravan site out of courtesy, as the land is near the village of Draycott, but belongs to the parish of Cheddar. * 6 MARCH 2007 - Cheddar Parish Council, which is responsible for the land at Nylands Crossroads, votes in favour of the caravan site. Protestors turned out to the planning committee meeting and were angered by the councillor's decision. * 4 APRIL 2007- SOLID announces it will enlist the help of wildlife experts to prove the caravan park would cause damage to animals' natural environment. * 17 APRIL 2007- the original date set for the Sedgemoor District Council planning committee decision. When the committee met it decided a site visit would be needed to fully understand the impact of a caravan site.* 27 APRIL 2007 - SOLID announces it still has regular hits to the website. * 18 MAY 2007 - site meeting. Councillors from Sedgemoor visit the site and talk to protestors about the planning proposal. * 22 May 2007- Sedgemoor District Council votes against the caravan park.


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