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Residents 'railroaded' over housing development in Ellicombe Meadow
A NEIGHBOURHOOD campaign to see access to a controversial development changed has been set up by residents in Ellicombe Meadow, just outside Minehead.
West Somerset planners granted permission for the development of 29 houses, eight apartments and 114 parking spaces in October.
Residents raised several concerns at the meeting, including construction access to the site, and said they were appalled at how the council treated them.
Now they are trying to overturn the decision to allow construction traffic access via Ellicombe Meadow.
Siobhan Hutchings, who lives in Ellicombe Meadow, is one of three residents spearheading the campaign.
The mum of two told the County Gazette: “This planning permission was completely railroaded through, and we feel the council ignored everything residents and third parties had to say, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England.”
Developers Strongvox applied to use Ellicombe Lane as a temporary access, but councillors rejected their bid instead, opting for a route through Ellicombe Meadow, as suggested by highway chiefs.
Work is due to begin in February and residents fear they will face up to three years of road chaos.
Siobhan said: “Our concerns were about safety and suitability with regards to access from Ellicombe Meadow.
“Strongvox looked into alternatives and revised their brochure, clearly showing access was being sought on the other side of the development at Ellicombe Lane.
“Now we’ve just discovered that a month before the meeting took place the council approved the build of a bungalow at that access point, reducing our options considerably.
“We believe it was done without our consultation and as residents we feel we’ve been very poorly treated.
“It’s all very well building these houses, but they aren’t building any more schools or hospitals or shops, so what’s the point?
“Who are they going to get to live here if the other facilities aren’t thought about?”
Siobhan has lodged a formal complaint and is applying for more details about the development under the Freedom of Information Act as she believes residents were not told everything.
A council spokesman said: “The council does understand, given the number of objections it received and the representations made at the planning committee, that there are a range of concerns regarding the development and the planning committee’s decision to approve the application on land at Ellicombe Meadows.
“The council has received some complaints from residents since the committee meeting and is considering its response to the issues they raise.
“While the council notes the continuing concerns of some residents it can’t reverse a decision to grant planning permission once the decision notice has been issued.”
The residents have recently been advised by the chair of the Planning Committee and the Council head of Planning, that the council has contacted developers Strongvox to urge them to find an alternative access for construction traffic to the site other than via Ellicombe Meadow.
The residents understand this initiative is ongoing.
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