South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18)

Comment ID 20
Document Section South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) Rural Centres Bruton Text Block View all on this section
Respondent HalHooberman View all by this respondent
Response Date 23 Aug 2019

I support the planned development, as should the wider community. There is an undeniable fact: the country, the region and the district need more homes. On last count, the district had a social housing waiting list of over 2,000, I understand that only a portion of these homes will go to the Housing Association but these figures are indicative of a wider need. It is estimated we, as a country, need to build 300,000 homes a year to address what is, unequivocally, a housing crisis. This is added to by district’s underperformance on housing. We have the space, the capacity and the opportunity to contribute to meeting these targets, we must do so.

The new development plans, as proposed by Acorn, offer a number of promising benefits for Bruton, both economically and socially. The district and town councils, over the long term, will benefit from the heightened council tax revenue, the New Homes Bonus, the Community Infrastructure Levy and the commitments the developer has made through the Section 106 agreement. On top of this, the local economy, including shops, pubs and restaurants, will enjoy the increased footfall and spending power that comes with an increased population. All of these sectors are key providers of jobs for the local community and I expect these proposals will be welcome. Alongside the economic benefits for the commercial side of Bruton, the local amenities too will prosper with the prospect of increased participation, in particular I cite Bruton United Football Club, always keen to add to its youth ranks. Once again, this development would be, I expect, very welcome by the primary school who will benefit, due to money from the state, from an increased intake to offset their recent falls, contrary to various unsubstantiated claims made locally. Moreover, the construction process will be of direct and indirect economic benefit for the local area with local contractors employed and these workers subsequently contributing to the local economy by offering commerce to the local shops, for example. Ultimately, the economic benefits for the local community, and council, are substantial and not to be ignored.

Additionally, the development plans outline the types of housing on offer; this correlates to the local, and national, requirements for entry level, family housing. This is perhaps different to the Cubis development, serving to enhance the appeal of the Brewham Road development. The market this development is curated to appeal to meets local requirements and need for cheaper, family homes. Alongside this, each house will host an electric car charge port, encouraging residents to take the lead in buying electric cars. This plot has been earmarked for development by the council, objecting on these grounds is therefore a nonstarter, this ground will be built on. The proposing developer, Acorn, has a reputation for solid, well built homes that stands out amidst the rabble of developers, notably in the surrounding area. We are lucky to have attracted Acorn, a developer we are familiar with and one that seems to pay impressive attention to detail and quality.

On the matter of ‘affordable’ housing, 35% of these homes will go to the housing association for ‘affordable rent’, higher than the 29% legal minimum. This is 19 homes. A very welcome addition to the current stock, minimising our waiting lists and giving families in need places to live.

Alongside these factors, I have been very impressed by the developer’s elaborate responses to local concerns, seeming to mitigate them entirely. Firstly, it has been argued that Bruton is already close to meeting its housing targets, as set by the Local Plan, and therefore does not need to build these new homes. This 'target’ is actually a minimum and is based on the previous Local Plan and no longer stands up following the recent update. This argument is further discredited by the district’s need for more homes. Even then, we should be proud of exceeding any 'targets'. The concern regarding local infrastructure being under undue strain has been subsided by Wessex Water’s confirmation of Bruton’s ability to take increased usage whilst flooding concerns have been elaborately addressed by the developer’s, including a flood plain, a sophisticated drainage system and a water basin. This has been further substantiated by the flooding agency confirming safety. Road safety has also attracted prominent local concern as the road from the site to Quaperlake Street is notoriously narrow and blind with little room for a walkway. The developer’s have proposed a traffic calming measure of priority right of way alongside a roadside walkway. This does go some way to mitigate local concerns about road safety.

I encourage the approval of the planning application.