What next for Cheddar's future? Villagers to vote on shops, schools and houses

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 June 2017

Cheddar Caves Ticket Office.

Cheddar Caves Ticket Office.

Archant

A neighbourhood plan which will help a Somerset village retain its identity while providing a sustainable area for residents has been submitted to Sedgemoor District Council.

Cheddar Neighbourhood Plan. Picture: Parish OnlineCheddar Neighbourhood Plan. Picture: Parish Online

Cheddar parish councillor, and member of the plan’s steering committee, Paul Fineran told the Mercury it is a ‘relief’ to have submitted the plans after years of work and preparation.

The plan looks at areas of land the parish council believes are suitable for housing and also for economic development, including the building of shops, schools and businesses.

Mr Fineran added: “It has been a huge amount of work for everyone involved and it is good to put it to bed.

“It is now down to Sedgemoor to see how long the remaining part of the process will take.”

The road through Cheddar Gorge.The road through Cheddar Gorge.

In recent years, 23 houses have been built in Sharpham Road and work has begun on 90 homes in Upper New Road.

The council has now outlined Round Oak Farm and Helliers Lane as two other areas which it believes are suitable for development.

Planning applications are already in for the two sites, with 110 homes proposed for Round Oak Farm and 67 homes for Helliers Lane.

However Mr Fineran has said it is ‘vital’ to build up the infrastructure first before more houses are built.

He added: “It is crucial to control development and we must match the expansion with the facilities available.

“Schools, GP surgeries and other services must all be improved first and not as an afterthought.”

As a result, the steering committee pointed out three areas, including the site of the old Sainsbury’s, off Lower New Road, and Yeo Valley, off Axbridge Road, which could house such facilities.

The council and committee also highlighted a ‘green wedge’ it hopes will remain undeveloped to separate the village from neighbouring Axbridge, and protect the rare wildlife in the area.

The plans will now be reviewed by Sedgemoor and an independent inspector will go through the document and review it.

The inspector will suggest any changes before the finished plan goes to a referendum – where the people in Cheddar will be asked whether they would like to adopt the plan and it must gain 50 per cent of the votes to be passed and implemented.

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