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

Comment ID 1417
Document Section South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) Rural Centres Spatial Portrait Text Block View all on this section
Respondent Cllr L Trimnell View all by this respondent
Response Date 18 Sep 2019

Bruton is a small Somerset town with a population of just over 3000 people. It is rich in history and its High Street is largely untouched with most buildings being instantly recognisable from early photographs. The layout is described as displaying features consistent with planned towns of the 12th to 14th centuries-as evidenced by wooden beams in some of the buildings which have been dated to this era. One of the features which so endears visitors and locals to the town is the clusters of chimneys and rooftops which come into view when travelling down into the town from the surrounding hills. These and the stone walls featured throughout the town are highly valued by residents and are recreated in some of the recent developments in the town. There are three scheduled monuments in Bruton as well as nine listed medieval buildings in the town’s centre. Features such as these help to make the town a destination for visitors but also create problems for modern-day living.

A narrow one-way system uses the historic road layouts, running through the centre of town and as a result, traffic is a huge problem in Bruton. The A359 runs from Nunney, near Frome all the way to Yeovil town centre and the High Street in Bruton forms part of this road. As a result, traffic between Yeovil and Frome tends to come through Bruton as it is a more direct route than the alternatives. The High Street is a narrow one-way road with parking along the left hand side of its entire length and leads into the narrow, meandering Quaperlake Street which has houses fronting both sides onto extremely narrow pavements. The nature of the bends along this road make it difficult for cars to pass one another and impossible for large vehicles such as farm machinery and lorries to pass through simultaneously, causing huge tailbacks at times as vehicles manoeuvre to allow passage, often mounting the pavements which are in places cracked and kerbs damaged due to the weight of vehicles. For pedestrians this presents a danger as there is nowhere for people to get out of the way due to the terraced houses and narrow pavements. Wheelchair users and even people with prams find these pavements challenging to use and there is no suitable alternative route from the Eastern side of town.

Problems with drains under Quaperlake Street have caused closures of this road for repairs, sometimes lasting weeks, with alternative routes running to distances greater than 20 miles through Frome and Shepton Mallet, effectively cutting the town in half and restricting access to amenities for those on the Eastern edge of the town. Road closures are not unique to Quaperlake Street, Wessex Water currently have one road closed and another closure planned for repairs, and there is an emergency repair on a burst water main on the Frome Road at the time of writing. Such issues have been a regular feature in Bruton for the last few years, causing concern locally about the capacity of water pipes in the town to meet the needs of the current population.

Bruton’s topography and clay soil renders the town prone to flooding. The town centre benefits from a dam which was constructed in 1984 due to extensive and damaging flooding in the town two years earlier. This dam has so far helped to prevent any further extensive flooding of the centre of the town but there was an instance of flash flooding at the Cuckoo Hill development approximately 7 years ago which caused damage to several properties. This was caused by runoff water from the fields above during a particularly heavy period of rainfall. The company responsible for the new Cubis development further up the hill has implemented drainage which they hope will prevent similar impacts resulting from or happening to this development, the efficacy of which will possibly be tested over the coming winter, however due to the fact that all roads into Bruton wind down into the town, in heavy rains roads operate like rivers-Brewham road being a notable example. Any future developers must ensure that they have familiarised themselves fully with the extent and nature of flooding in the town, including the dam and how it operates to ensure they do not inflict further problems in the future.