Campaign to save green space fails

Proposed Layout of 110 homes off Lakeside in Highbridge. Picture: The Landscape Practice

Proposed Layout of 110 homes off Lakeside in Highbridge. Picture: The Landscape Practice - Credit: Archant

Efforts to save a green lung of land in a Somerset town have been thwarted.

The group are opposed to two housing developments. Picture: Mike Lang

The group are opposed to two housing developments. Picture: Mike Lang - Credit: Archant

Sedgemoor District Council’s executive committee voted to sell land south of Lakeside in Highbridge to Coln Residential in June, which has outline permission to build 110 homes near the Walrow ponds.

Residents were given hope when the decision was called in by opposition councillors on July 10, urging the ruling Conservative group to rethink the decision.

Despite this, on July 22 the executive decided it will uphold its original decision, arguing the green space delivered as part of the new development which would be safer for residents.

Campaigner Joy Russell organised a gathering of around 80 people at the site on July 18 to demonstrate the Burnham and Highbridge Town Council’s fears about access into the green space.


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She said: “This shows how much green space means to our community. It’s so sad that we have to fight to save this space – you don’t seem to care where you build.

MORE: Green space will be sold off to provide ‘much-needed’ homes“Highbridge is overdeveloped already, you need to move on with your colouring-in exercise, because this page is full.”

A striking point for the discussion was access to the site from Springfield Road, via a level crossing over the busy railway line between Bristol and Exeter via the town’s railway station.

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Officers claimed this crossing was cited by Network Rail as one of the 40 most dangerous in the UK, due to trains travelling at around 110mph on this stretch of the line at certain parts of the day.

Sedgemoor district councillor Mike Caswell, portfolio holder for infrastructure and transport, said: “There’s no other way to get across (from Springfield Road), but it is phenomenally dangerous. Trains are going much faster now and they’re much quieter.”

However, councillor Mike Murphy argued it is a ‘perfectly safe crossing’ which people use every day.

Sedgemoor District Council leader Duncan McGinty said: “We sometimes have to make difficult decisions.

“Our ability to develop this site as an open space is a non-starter.

“We have not been able to secure access to do that. It would appear the only way we can deliver any form of open space here is to dispose of the land.”

After 90 minutes’ discussion and debate, the committee voted unanimously to uphold its original decision to sell the land.

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