More homes will be built near Wells despite objections
THERE are more houses on the way for Wookey Hole Road after planners approved a new development.
The scheme for 160 new homes next to the Thales site went before Mendip District Council’s planning board – who approved the plans despite road safety fears and objections to building on previously undeveloped land.
Before the board discussed the plans they heard from several speakers.
Wells resident Alice Mitchell said: “My main objection is that it is a greenfield site. Visitors and residents fall in love with the views. Building over greenfields loses those forever.”
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Chris Briton, who is a councillor for both Wells and St Cuthbert (Out), said: “When we discussed this at Wells City Council the main objection was that it is a greenfield site. It is essentially countryside.
“We should only develop greenfields as a last resort and there are a number of brownfield sites still available – including the neighbouring Thales site.”
The board then heard from Simon Steele-Perkins, who represented the developers, Strategic Land Partnerships.
He said that they had worked with Mendip over where they wanted to put houses.
He said: “This is not a speculative application. It is in accordance with the emerging Local Plan.”
He then referred to brownfield sites such as Thales and Nutricia. He said that work was, or would shortly be, under way on all these sites and therefore there was less space available than people might think.
The leader of Mendip, Councillor Harvey Siggs, said that he was concerned about the extra number of cars on Wookey Hole Road – particularly as pupils from the Blue School often crossed it on their way to class.
He added that despite this the council would need to have good reasons to reject the scheme due to housing requirements identified in the draft Local Plan.
Many board members shared this view with Councillor Nigel Taylor saying that they had make decisions that might not be popular but needed to be made.
He said that they had safeguarded the land to the south of the site but that they did not have much room to manoeuvre on this application.
However, Councillor Danny Unwin felt that Wookey Hole Road was not suitable for more houses, particularly as around 180 were due on the Thales site.
He said: “That road is a nightmare.
“I frequently drive down it and it is lethal.
“We should refuse this. I’m going to vote against it because I think it’s madness.”
Mendip’s planning manager, Matthew Williams, who was there to advise the board, said: “We need to build houses.
“This is proposing houses on a site this council has said is appropriate for housing.”
On the subject of traffic Mr Williams said that there had been an expert analysis of Wookey Hole Road that said there was extra capacity.
He said: “I know it’s not popular but I have to advise you not to reject it on highway safety issues.
“We would not have any evidence to take to the inspector.”
When the plan went to the vote nine voted in favour with four against.