Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Comment ID 274
Document Section Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) Market Towns - Visions and Proposals Wincanton Spatial Portrait Spatial Portrait View all on this section
Respondent Susan Tindal and Richard Tindal View all by this respondent
Response Date 29 Nov 2010
What is the nature of this representation?
  • Observation
RE: Public Consultation on Draft Core Strategy for Wincanton (COPY OF VERSION POSTED except for map)

We have not been directly consulted over this Core Plan and did not receive anything through the post (nor have many other people living in this area). We only heard third-hand of the public consultation and the local council meetings.

We wish to raise three specific issues which need to be taken into account when assessing Preferred Option 1 for Wincanton:

1. Objective 10 of Appendix 3 of the Sustainability Appraisal Document states that there is a requirement to 'conserve and where appropriate enhance the historic environment' and 'adverse effects on the historic environment should be mitigated'. Listed properties are particularly mentioned.

Further, Appendix 6, page 12, states that with regard to Wincanton in particular, 'Option 1: Historic Environment will be maintained. Option is not related to the conservation area except in the very north-east corner '....'impact on listed buildings will be minimal'.

This is clearly not the case. We live in a 400 year old Grade II listed farmhouse and own 3.5 acres of land in the very centre of the northern stretch of Option 1. This has clearly been overlooked. Not all of Wincanton's listed buildings are in the conservation area, as the forementioned statement implies. There is an obligation to protect the setting of listed buildings and, historically, Verrington Lodge Farm and its neighbours, Verrington Farm and Verrington Lodge Barn (which are also listed), owned a significant proportion of the valley at Verrington and are indeed still surrounded by an overwhelmingly rural landscape with very low density housing.

The setting of a listed property is defined as the outlook the original building was meant to have. Fields marked A and B on Map 1 in the Appendix are specifically within the sightline of Verrington Lodge Farm, also marked, and high density build on these fields would irreversibly decimate the rural character and setting of the listed properties.

2. Option 13 of the Sustainability Plan is a requirement to 'manage and reduce the risk of flooding'. Appendix 6 for Wincanton's Preferred Option 1 states that this 'option avoids areas at risk of flooding. Use of SUDS should be promoted'.

This is incorrect. There is a natural drainage of water from the school playing field on the western edge of Dancing Lane behind the houses down to a very narrow gap (about 6 feet only) between Verrington Lodge Farm and Verrington Lodge Barn. This drainage plus springs in the hillside, particularly in the steeply sloping sides of Field A, see Map 1, add to a torrent of water that causes flash flooding between the two listed buildings. The centre of field A is a natural drainage channel sending water down the hillside at speed and with a tremendous force. The last major flash flood was 22 months ago, with another a few months before that. It has always occurred on a regular basis. 400 years ago the lie of the land was known well and Verrington Lodge Farm was built so that the water avoided the dwelling itself and drained down the track to Verrington Lane. Last time the flash flooding was over knee-high and intense enough that over 20 tonnes of earth, rubble and tarmac were deposited onto Verrington Lane, rendering it completely impassable as the water flowed down to the river at the bottom of the Lane. The topography of the land shows at least 50% natural drainage in this direction. There is no other option for water. Any further increase in flood levels by allowing buildings and associated hard surfaces on the land down to field A is likely to tip this delicate balance, undermine the extremely shallow foundations of the listed properties, and destroy the landscape further.

Hence field A is particularly unsuitable for development due to its natural topography. Even Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDS) would be very hard to implement on such a sloping field with no suitable drainage outlet. Foul water drainage does not appear to have consideration within the report. Studies would need show how this would actually be undertaken on such a steeply sloping field with no sizeable outlet. The few existing buildings in Verrington Valley have septic tanks. Foul water drainage on a steep site with a high housing density would be quite a challenge on both an economic and environmental front.

3. Proposed density of housing for Preferred Option 1 is, at best, in the order of 30 houses per hectare.

The valley at Verrington, strictly speaking part of Charlton Musgrove as opposed to Wincanton directly, is an overwhelmingly rural, unspoilt area. Housing density in the valley is at most ½ an acre per property, with most properties having one or several acres. Historically it is farmland and still maintains that atmosphere. To unthinkingly plonk a dense housing estate with associated infrastructure, including roadways and street lighting into this valley would completely decimate the valley and destroy the tranquil beauty of the landscape. It is also likely to harm the race course and associated businesses in ruining the rural setting of its approach. (Incidentally, field C on Map 1, next to Cutts Close, is also the likely resting place of soldiers who died in the skirmish involving William of Orange's men - a potential archaeological site could be destroyed unless this was properly surveyed).

Whilst we believe that, in principle, Wincanton needs more suitable, sustainable employment before large quantities of housing are built, we are not naïve enough to discount Government requirements for new housing opportunities to be identified across the UK. This Core Plan does not take account of the new coalition Government's changes in legislation - particularly the changes to Planning Policy Statement No.3, PPS3 Housing, June 2010, which has removed the strict requirement for a minimum housing density (it has clear provision for a suitable mix of housing densities, having regard for 'the existing mix of housing in the locality'. This could indeed be low density housing in predominantly rural areas). In addition, the content of the forthcoming Decentralisation and Localisation Bill will give local councils more power to decide their own appropriate housing needs.

However, full-scale adoption of Option 1 with high density housing, without taking into account issues such as we have raised, would destroy all that attracts people to this town and would not be sustainable environmentally or economically in the short or long term.
Attachment: Map 1