Sandford development inquiry begins at last

PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 August 2016

View of Sandford Village stone sign.

View of Sandford Village stone sign.


A long-running planning saga in North Somerset is drawing closer to a conclusion this week, with an inquiry taking place at Weston Town Hall.

The inquiry, which is set to conclude tomorrow (Friday), is centred upon the proposed Strongvox Homes development off Greenhill Road in Sandford, which could see 118 homes built in the village.

The original plans were submitted in February 2015, and despite North Somerset Council’s intention to reject the proposal, it failed to do so in the allotted time, allowing Strongvox to appeal in the hope of forcing a decision.

David Richards has been appointed as the inspector for the inquiry by the Secretary of State, and he will decide whether the plans are approved or rejected.

The inquiry was originally set for April, but inspector illness forced a postponement.

Sandford residents were out in force for the opening of the inquiry on Tuesday morning, raising concerns over infrastructure, job prospects and ecology.

One resident went to the length of issuing a video of school traffic in Sandford to the inquiry, stating the plans would exacerbate existing transport issues.

Over the four-day inquiry, Strongvox’s team will go head-to-head with the council in the hope of convincing the inspector.

The developer’s appeal is being fronted by Christopher Boyle. In his opening statement, he said: “If you recognise the need for housing and affordable housing, and give that appropriate weight, together with the economic, social and environmental benefits, that would in fact outweigh the harms.

“Suddenly the harms do not significantly or demonstratively outweigh the benefits.”

But the council’s team has other ideas. Barrister Timothy Leader, representing the authority, told the New Council Chamber: “The council resists the proposal of 118 houses on the edge of Sandford as it conflicts with the principles of sustainable development specified by the framework and the core strategy.

“Infill villages are not locations which can be made sustainable to receive significant amounts of housing developments.”

A final decision will be announced six weeks after the inquiry is concluded.

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