'Alien' looking housing plan to go before inquiry this week

PUBLISHED: 07:39 23 July 2019

View from Roman Road in Bleadon show why the village is much sought after by developers. Picture: Mark Atherton

View from Roman Road in Bleadon show why the village is much sought after by developers. Picture: Mark Atherton

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A six-day inquiry, starting today (Tuesday) will decide whether 200 homes can be built in Bleadon.

Sutherland Property and Legal Services launched an appeal after North Somerset Council rejected its masterplan, which also proposes a health centre, shops and offices.

The eight-hectare greenfield site is next to the A371 Bridgwater Road, just outside the village boundary.

The council said there are strict controls to protect the character of the rural area and prevent unsustainable development.

Sutherland could not understand why the village had been deemed 'inappropriate for development growth' and argued that its site was one of those needed to be redeveloped for the council to hit its housing targets.

It had planning consent for a primary school but consultations showed there were little appetite from villagers, who instead preferred improved health facilities.

The submitted masterplan included a health centre/doctor's surgery, retail space and office or employment space.

The application was met with 387 objections and opposition in the 'strongest possible terms' from Bleadon Parish Council.

North Somerset Council said Sutherland had given 'no information that any local health trusts or developers would be willing or able to develop such a facility', or that the retail and employment offer would be viable for such a small catchment area.

The authority's planning officers said the development would have a significant impact on the landscape and appear as 'man-made and alien', and also raised concerns about the flood risk.

They added: "This major housing scheme, even with the offer of new local facilities, is inappropriate in scale and in an unsustainable location."

But Sutherland said in its submission ahead of the planning inquiry: "The proposed development will improve and enhance the village sustainability by creating much needed homes, improving local health services and increasing access to health care, improving highway safety on the entrances to the village and providing employment and retail opportunities.

"The sustainability of the village relies upon future development."

The developer will apply for North Somerset Council to pay its costs for the appeal, claiming it had failed to cooperate and produced a one-sided report on the proposals.

A planning inspector will hear the case at Weston Town Hall.

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