Residents 'disgusted' as more than 100 homes will be built in Sandford after inquiry

PUBLISHED: 13:00 21 October 2016

The proposed Strongvox development in Sandford.

The proposed Strongvox development in Sandford.

Archant

Sandford residents have spoken of their 'disgust' after it was revealed 118 homes will be built in the village after North Somerset Council was defeated in a planning inquiry.

Taunton-based Strongvox Homes convinced inspectors to grant planning permission for a development to the north of Greenhill Road.

The project will see up to 118 homes built, of which 35 will be assigned to affordable housing schemes, plus informal public open space, car parking and a sports pitch.

Concerns over infrastructure, sustainability and ecology had been raised by the council and Sandford residents at August’s inquiry.

But after 10 weeks of deliberation and site visits, inspector David Richards granted planning permission for the development, subject to conditions.

Mr Richards said: “My overall conclusion is that the adverse impacts of the scheme would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, and planning permission should be granted.”

But Winscombe and Sandford parish councillor Paul Watkins was disappointed with the decision.

He said: “Dismay, disgust and shock are among the sentiments expressed by many residents of Sandford on hearing of the decision to allow development on green fields to the north of Greenhill Road.

“The decision appears to fly in the face of previous decisions made by the planning inspectorate and does little to provide confidence in the ability of Government to respect the views and knowledge of local people, despite apparently championing localism.

“Residents have fought long and hard to try to prevent this inappropriate and over-bearing development.

“In 2015, the applicants, who reside outside of the village, had stated that they wanted to leave ‘a legacy for the village’; there can be little doubt that they have succeeded, but for all the wrong reasons.”

Simon Tannahill, of Strongvox Homes, told the Mercury: “Strongvox Homes is very pleased with the inspector’s decision to allow our appeal and grant outline planning permission.

“As part of our reserved matters application to agree the detail of the scheme we will be consulting again with local residents and the parish council to get their thoughts on our draft proposals which will help inform the design and layout of the scheme.”

And a North Somerset spokesman said: “We have worked hard to allocate new sites through a plan-led approach with our site allocations plan and we are disappointed that, despite this, he found that we still had an insufficient supply of housing sites.”

The council wanted to reject the application, but was unable to do so in the allotted timeframe, meaning Strongvox could appeal.

The council’s spokesman added: “Developers have an option to lodge an appeal if councils don’t make a decision within the agreed target date.

“In this case the developer chose not to wait for us to make a formal decision and chose to pursue the appeal route.

“We have nevertheless confirmed that if an appeal had not been lodged the application would have been refused and we fought the appeal on that basis.”

Strongvox says work will not begin until the end of 2017.

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