Housing Proposals Public Meeting: Report

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rp_Gladman-site-640px-300x216.jpgAround 80 residents of Congresbury heard a range of reasons why they should object to the plan to build 50 houses on land off Wrington Lane. The voices against land agents Gladman, who have applied for planning permission, were heard at a public meeting organised by Congresbury Residents Action Group (CRAG) at the Methodist Hall.

Chaired by local resident Chris Day, the meeting heard from district councillor Tom Leimdorfer, Arthur Hacking, vice chair of the Parish Council and Mary Short and Viv Tomkinson, chair and secretary of CRAG.

Viv explained the application was for outline permission – precise design and layout to be dealt with later. Viv added that Gladman are agents who focus on green field sites – they get outline permission and then sell onto housebuilders.

Comments on the application should be submitted by local residents as soon as possible, said Viv. She added there had been a legal challenge to the District Council’s Core Strategy, involving the number of new houses to be built in North Somerset by 2026. The challenge had resulted in an increased target of 6,000 houses to approximately 21,000.

With a shortfall of 1,715 homes, North Somerset had proposed 465 being allocated to villages like Congresbury.

Cllr Leimdorfer said the council needed to be able to show they were half way to delivering the target number of houses between now and 2026 in five years. Currently NSC was in a weak position because they could not prove a five year supply.

This meant that there was pressure to approve planning applications such as the development of up to 141 homes in Pudding Pie Lane, Churchill.

He acknowledged that there was a difference of view between district councillors representing towns and councillors representing rural areas about scale of development within Service Villages.

In response to a question about whether settlement boundaries would be protected once the 465 additional homes for service villages had been identified, Cllr Leimdorfer explained that if it could be proved that the council had a five year supply  the policies underlying the Core Strategy would again apply. He urged people to object to the Gladman proposal.

On other planning matters, Arthur Hacking reported that the Parish Council had recommended refusal of the Strongvox appeal to build 14 houses on land behind Venus Street.

Cllr Hacking told the meeting that the Sunley application for 54 houses on land off Cobthorn Way, the Parish Council had lodged a detailed objection.

In respect of the Gladman application, Cllr Hacking explained that the Parish had again recommended refusal. The reasons identified by the Parish Council included failure to adhere to the principles of sustainability; it was against the policies and principles of the Core Strategy; outside the settlement boundary; against public opinion; increased risk of accidents on the A370 and Wrington Lane and adverse impact on the rural landscape.

He reminded people of the need to be proactive and embrace the Neighbourhood Plan which would identify areas in the village that were suitable for development.

Chairman Chris Day invited comment from the audience on the Gladman proposals. He explained that CRAG was looking for a mandate for the action to be taken in respect of the application.

One resident said that if both Sunley and Gladman developments were allowed, the implications for Wrington Lane and the A370 access would be significant.

There were issues of visibility for drivers in Wrington Lane for the proposed access to the Gladman site. And it was stated that the cumulative traffic impact of the two should be considered – not each in isolation

Wrington Lane was a rat run and would get worse, there were overhanging hedges obscuring visibility for drivers. Some of the key issues that objectors could make involved: drainage and potential flooding, footpaths and access to village involving kissing gates which were not suitable for pushchairs; the sites closeness to a Site of Scientific Interest and visual impact on the countryside.

Other points were made about the proximity of foraging bats, the walking distance to school/GP surgery, the impact on quality of life for residents, the impact on the Cobthorn Trust Heritage, the rare breeds farm run by Andrew Sheppy.

The Sunley site had Romano-British pottery kilns – there could also be similar important archaeological remains on the Gladman site.

A local resident emphasised the importance of drainage and historic artefacts by recalling that there had been an application for development in the 1990’s. She understood the application was rejected on those grounds.

John Mills John Mills

Journalist and jazz saxophonist John Mills has lived in Congresbury for more than 25 years, moving to the village from West London with his wife Rocki and 10 month old son, Sam in 1979. After a few years in Clevedon, John and Rocki moved back to the village in 2006, renovating and extending a bungalow in Yew Tree Park. Sadly, Rocki died in 2013. John, 71 keeps busy musically, playing with Cadbury Wind Band, with his son in the Sam Mills Quintet, and with a newly formed duo, Sax in the City with fellow Congresbury saxophonist and vocalist, Louise Harris.

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