‘Mad’ scheme for new homes refused

The orchard would not see homes built on it, but it would have a road run through the middle of it,

The orchard would not see homes built on it, but it would have a road run through the middle of it, if Persimmon Homes' planning application is accepted. Picture: Steve Bridger - Credit: Steve Bridger

A village under ‘attack’ from housing developments has been spared a new estate of 66 homes which campaigners feared would ‘destroy’ a historic orchard.

Persimmon Homes' scheme to build on former junior rugby pitches off Moor Road in Yatton was almost unanimously opposed at Weston Town Hall by North Somerset Council's planning committee on June 19.

The chief concern was the developer's wish to build an access road to the homes and a play area in the historic orchard, which villager Judith Cockram said would 'destroy' important hedgerows and trees.

Cllr Ann Harley added: "I have great sympathy with Yatton and I think a lot of villages are being attacked and I make no apology for saying that.

"Yatton is a village and it's becoming a small town."

Hundreds of houses are being built off Arnolds Way by Bloor Homes, while permission for about 150 more has already been granted yards away.

And with other developments in the pipeline - including the potential move of the rugby club to accommodate more homes in Yatton - councillors and campaigners took a stand.

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Cllr Wendy Griggs, who represents Yatton on North Somerset Council, said Moor Road is unsuitable for a large influx in cars, with it and Kenn Moor Road often subjected to travel 'chaos'.

Several other members of the planning committee echoed those concerns.

Cllr David Shopland said Moor Road had been problematic for vehicles since the days he travelled to Yatton's market on the back of a horse and cart.

And Cllr Steve Hogg added: "It would be madness to allow this to (scheme) to go ahead.

"(The travel report) is like a chapter of an Enid Blyton novel.

"I feared for my own safety and life as cars sped past (when attending a site visit)."

Moor Road is a popular place for rail passengers to park to avoid charges at the train station, and planning officers said work could be done to alleviate that issue and to prevent a bottleneck.

Josh Ashwin, addressing the committee on Persimmon's behalf, said the housing plan would not have a 'significant impact', although campaigners lamented the proposed loss of ancient hedges and trees.

He has also previously said building the homes in the northern field would enable Children's Hospice South West to sell the land it rented out to the rugby club to help fund its vital work.

Ultimately though, councillors almost universally rejected the plan.

Officers at the council did feel the scheme was acceptable and because members went against their recommendation, it will come back to the committee for confirmation in July.

A 'delighted' Cllr Griggs said work would go on before that meeting to nail down the decision in relation to the council's planning strategy.