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

Comment ID 601
Document Section South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) Rural Centres Brewham Road Text Block View all on this section
Respondent David View all by this respondent
Response Date 18 Sep 2019

Below is my response to the Local Plan Review 2016-2036 document. My points are mainly in response to the housing development plan for Bruton. I believe that Land BT1 is not suitable for development for the following reasons:

The land is large enough to accommodate over 100 houses. Any developer would probably attempt to develop to the full extent. This would result in an overdevelopment of this area of Bruton, and indeed Bruton as a whole. Even if the suggested 60 homes were adhered to, this is still too many additional houses for Bruton. 

Bruton has seen its fair share of development in recent years, particularly on the eastern side of town. As the development target increase from the adopted local plan is 15% for all rural centres across the county, I would suggest that Bruton should be considered for a lower percentage. Bruton is still dealing with issues arising from recent developments and is yet to see the impact the c68 new homes at Cubis will have on the local infrastructure.

Bruton’s roads in the town are congested already and not able to take the amount of traffic currently feeding through. There is not enough parking in the town, something which has been acknowledged on numerous occasions but little has been done about it. Additional traffic from a new development would only exacerbate these problems. Before any development is permitted on land BT1, it would be wise to see how the traffic from the additional homes being built at Cubis on the Frome Road will affect the infrastructure issues above.

In the town survey, land BT1 was the least most popular area identified for development, with land at Cole Road being the preferred option. It seems that the Local Plan is being swayed not by good planning decisions and the views of the residents but solely by those selling, promoting or developing the land.

Access to the land at BT1 is not sufficient for any development as Brue Close, Brue Avenue and Eastfield would not cope with the additional traffic. Currently the road surface is very poor and narrow in many places. Bollards were placed in between Priory Mead and Cuckoo Hill when the Cuckoo Hill homes were being built as the roads in the existing estate were seen as not able to accommodate any additional through traffic. An increase in traffic and pedestrians along those roads will only increase the risk of accident, especially as children walk to school. Access via Brewham Road would be treacherous and increase the traffic volume along this narrow country road. Access via Cuckoo Hill would mean additional traffic through narrow convoluted roads to join the Frome Road. None of these access routes to this site seem like viable options.

Land BT1 encroaches greenbelt land. The existing edge of Brue Close and Brue Avenue forms part of the natural town boundary. To break this boundary means a reduction in the rural surroundings of the town. As a rural centre, Bruton should be looking at infill sites before considering development of these areas.

South Somerset District Council has declared a ‘Climate Emergency’. Therefore, surely the size of development for which land BT1 has scope for is not in line with this declaration. Any housing would need to have a carbon neutral effect on the environment and I don’t see how this can be achieved when turning a field currently used for farming into a site for 60 homes. 

Without the demand for jobs in Bruton, any new development will encourage people to use their cars to commute to work, or even to get into the town centre - owing to the development’s position. New developments by design and position should encourage residents to walk, or use other methods of transport. I don't believe land at BT1 promotes anything but using a car.

It is argued that ‘we need more housing’ owing to the national housing shortage. If this is the case, then we need to ensure that any development has a guaranteed number of affordable housing above the minimum percentages. Some developers may offer that a percentage of development will be allocated as affordable housing at the time planning permission is applied for - though rarely is this adhered to. In continuing times of financial uncertainty these private firms will find it economically unviable to follow through with their promises. Thus we end up with large areas of unaffordable housing and the housing crisis continues.

Land BT1 is in flood zone 2 and regularly floods in the lower east corner. Development on this land would create surface run-off of water that would increase flooding to the field, to the field to the south and would enter the river downstream of Bruton’s flood defences.

The Doctor’s surgery on Patwell Street is already clogged with people having to wait weeks for appointments. With an ageing population, the surgery will come under increased stress in the coming years. It’s unadvisable to add to this stress by introducing another 60 homes (not forgetting the other developments in the pipeline).

In summary, the land at BT1 is unsuitable for development at this time. Consideration has to be given to the fact that there are other developments currently (Cubis) and potentially (South of Brewham Road) that have yet to show what the impact will be on the town. I think the district council should be looking at ways of increasing employment and upgrading the roads, sewerage and facilities infrastructure before contemplating any further housing development.