CAMPAIGNERS against a 20-home development approved in Churchinford believe they are the latest victims of ‘land grabbing’.

Cityscape Properties’ application for the houses at Ford House Farm has been pushed through by Taunton Deane planners despite mass objection from people in the Blackdown Hills beauty spot.

A petition has attracted more than 200 signatures and a protest was staged outside Deane House in Taunton ahead of last week’s planning committee meeting.

Ken Pearson, clerk of Churchstanton Parish Council, said: “We’re unhappy about the decision but will make sure the developer sticks to the conditions.

“Approval was granted subject to section 106 money being made available and we want the community to benefit as promised.”

Campaigners met on Friday (February 28) night to discuss the next step following approval. It was decided to continue to oppose Taunton Deane’s decision on ‘policy grounds’ and to have an exhibition in June or July.

Mr Pearson added: “We know we will be taking this up as a national issue because it is happening to AONB sites across the country.

“They are all suffering from land grabbing – these are areas that should be protected.”

The development would see 20 homes built on a site which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Churchinford is one of five minor rural centres across the Deane where development is expected up to 2028.

Along with Creech St Michael, Cotford St Luke, Milverton and North Curry, the villages are to provide up to 250 houses between them within existing boundaries by that date.

A spokesman for Taunton Deane Council said: “A petition of 222 signatures was submitted and reported to members and the application provided five affordable units.

“The application is not considered to harm the character of the AONB and the scheme proposed 20 houses to reflect the preferred strategy option, including the five affordable homes.

“Before permission can be issued open space, a play area and contributions towards off site recreation, allotments and a community hall as well as maintenance are required.

"These will be written into a legal agreement.”