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

Comment ID 600
Document Section South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) Rural Centres Land west of Frome Road Text Block View all on this section
Respondent LStorer View all by this respondent
Response Date 18 Sep 2019

Bruton Town Council’s response to the Issues and Options Consultation states “respondents to our Town Plan Survey were, unsurprisingly, mostly opposed to further development”.  Why are we not being listened to?

The results of the town survey list the north of the Brewham Road (BT1) as the fourth choice – behind Frome Road/Country Fields, Cole Road and south of the Brewham Road.  Why has Cole Road been omitted from the Local Plan Review when this would be infill and lie within the perimeter of the existing built-up area?  Lighting, roads, facilities etc are already in place and it doesn’t impact upon green belt land in the same way.  The concentration of traffic on the eastern edge of the town, and the resulting pressure on Quaperlake Street, would be considerably less.  Given the current Climate Emergency I would have thought this would have been the more suitable option?

Apparently there is a district-wide housing shortage but I’m not quite sure why Bruton has to soak up any shortfall, and particularly on greenfield sites when brownfield sites should be considered first.  Of course, there is considerably much more profit for developers to not use brownfield sites, however I'm not too sure how building on over 13 acres of currently agricultural land helps the Climate Emergency?!

The eastern edge of the BT1 is identified by the Environment Agency as being at high risk of surface-water flooding.  The development at Cuckoo Hill experienced surface-water flooding and many homes were flooded.  The developer could have built in this field but chose not to, seriously questioning the viability of this site.  Surface-water will run in to the River Brue below the dam, jeopardising the town’s flood defence scheme.  Cuckoo Hill was only allowed to be built as long as it had an independent entrance, with bollards preventing traffic going from Cuckoo Hill to Eastfield/Brue Avenue, so I fail to see why this is now acceptable.

On the Local Plan Review, 76 houses are already committed, 11 of which are completed and then 65 at Cubis. This would then leave a further 65; conveniently, the number proposed for BT1 and BT2.  Why is the Local Plan Review being dictated to by greedy landowners and developers rather than the results of the Town Plan and the views of the town’s inhabitants?  We have a petition of c.600 people who do not want to see any development along the Brewham Road.  There is currently a natural town boundary along the perimeter of these fields, and the eastern edge of the town is being overdeveloped creating further congestion along Quaperlake Street, light pollution, destroying wildlife and hedgerows.  Once again, I fail to see how this is helping the current Climate Emergency!

With planning permission for a further 60 houses to the south of the Brewham Road having already been submitted, if all these went through, this would take us to 60 houses above the proposed Local Plan Review numbers, before it's even been approved; potentially around 16 years ahead of schedule.  Along with Cubis and the site at BT2, that would mean an additional 190 houses in the same eastern corner of the town putting huge pressures on a variety of roads, not to mention other areas of the infrastructure! 

The access roads around Brue Close/Avenue and Wyvern Close are not sufficient to withstand this increase in traffic (not to mention the works traffic should this site be developed upon) and it also puts a huge amount of pressure on the already dangerous, unclassified Brewham Road (already used regularly by two haulage firms) and the very narrow Quaperlake Street.

Frequently cars, vans, buses and lorries mount the pavements along Quaperlake Street, and Coombe Street, making the school run extremely hazardous.  Given the current Climate Emergency, this will only push more people in to their cars.  Similarly, there are not the employment opportunities in Bruton to cope with this number of houses, which will ultimately result in people working away from the town and again, using their cars.  Unless these people work in the general direction of Frome, they will pass through the bottleneck of Quaperlake Street making it even more congested and dangerous.  The Department for Transport’s guidelines for an A road with traffic moving in two different directions, suggest that there should be a minimum width of 24 feet. Quaperlake Street narrows down in places to 15 feet, and the Library junction and the surrounding roads are frequently clogged with traffic.  Just the other week, a lady who was walking along the pavement on Coombe Street was hit by a passing car’s wing mirror and now has her arm in a sling!

We walk to, and from school every day, and as well as seeing vehicles regularly on the pavements, my daughter, my partner and I had the misfortune to witness a young boy being hit by a car.  The driver, I believe, was obeying the 20mph speed limit and sadly it serves to highlight the dangers of Quaperlake Street currently, never mind with an additional 190 houses in the mix, plus the heavy goods vehicles that regularly disobey the town’s weight limit, who also mount the pavements.

The Doctors surgery has insufficient capacity to cope with the additional housing, nor is there enough parking in the town.

Several water pipes have burst in the Brue Close, Brewham Road and Quaperlake Street areas, highlighting the already creaking infrastructure.

There is a general feeling of distrust – Cubis was meant to have 23 affordable homes and this has been reduced to 12.  The suggested number of homes seems to increase - Area East wanted to put 100 homes on the land to the south of the Brewham Road when the initial proposal from the architect was for 20.  The skewed analysis relating to the field to the south of the Brewham Road has already been highlighted, raised and had to be revised.  With BT1 you can clearly see from the Indicative Masterplan that the intention is to build on the whole field – why else would they put the play area so far away from the proposed houses?

There is also a feeling of lack of transparency – pre-application meetings are taking place where issues appear to be ironed out prior to an application being formally submitted and the public can have their say. I understand that in one of these meetings Claremont accepted that their visualisations were for demonstration purposes only, and that the final scheme, if approved, might end up looking substantially different to the flyer many of us have received though our doors. How can planning be granted on such vague proposals?  These meetings behind closed doors just makes the job of the agencies/developers easier, and it considerably harder for the inhabitants who have little knowledge of the complex planning procedures, to air their views and attempt to fight it.  Inhabitants are left to deal with the consequences of planning being granted to meet targets, rather than the needs or the wants of the town.

Looking at Acorn’s website, I can see that only three houses at Cubis have been sold to date.  If this is the case, where is the demand for housing?  If it is to do with the style of housing not being desirable, then why not make Phase 2 in to the style of housing that is?  Surely this is a simple case of supply and demand.  Why are you proposing yet more new houses when the current ones haven’t sold, nor have we seen the impact of them on the town and its infrastructure?

I understand that BT1 is the only area flat enough for the Air Ambulance to land on the eastern side of the town.  I know of several incidences where it has been used over the last few years, and given its proximity to the sheltered housing at Eastfield, greatly increases risk to the public and particularly the elderly.

I have also sent many photos via We Transfer (as the file was too large to attach) to highlight the various traffic issues around the town which will only get worse if yet more development is granted.

Surely SSDC has a duty of care and responsibility to ensure the safety of the town’s inhabitants, and I firmly believe for the many reasons listed above, that this Local Plan Review does not do that.