PLANS to send 500 homes-worth of traffic into a narrow lane on the edge of Taunton resulted in heated debate as the controversial Staplegrove planning application reached D-Day.

Two outline planning applications to build a combined 1,600 new homes on a scenic site near Staplegrove were deferred after a council meeting the Taunton Deane Borough Council planning committee yesterday (September 20).

Debate over the massive development on the edge of town was heard in front of more than a hundred members of public at Castle School.

After TDBC planning officers presented the application and recommended approval, 21 members of public stood up to voice their concerns about the plans, including members of Residents of Staplegrove Action Group (RoSAG), Whitmore Area Residents Group (WARG), and representatives from nearby parish councils.

The application saw lots of opposition from both members of the public and councillors, with particular attention drawn to the use of Corkscrew Lane as a temporary access road to the site, and the amount of affordable housing at 15 per cent, falling well below TDBC’s own recommended amount of 25 per cent.

Ptarmigan Staplegrove Ltd applied for 713 homes with employment land, green infrastructure, landscaping and play areas between Whitmore Lane and Silk Mills.

Meanwhile, PM Asset Management Ltd is planning 915 homes north of Corkscrew Lane, with a primary school, employment land, open space and sports pitches.

Both the east and west parts of the application featured a spine road running from Kingston Road to A358.

Residents groups have been adamant that this spine road should be in place before building work starts on housing to ensure that traffic is not forced onto other narrow roads in the area.

In the latest form of the application, developers and council officers agreed to have a temporary dropdown road into Corkscrew Lane which is expected to be in place for around five years.

If approved, this would mean more than 500 homes would be built, put up for sale, and filtering traffic onto the narrow Corkscrew Lane before work begins on the spine road.

Cllr Marcia Hill said: “For me one of the most important things was that the spine road was put in before any work starts.

“We all know that was one of the main parts of this site. Going through Staplegrove is already scary, and it is getting scarier month by month.

“I know why they have a dropdown road, it is because they need to make a bit of money before they build the spine road. It is all about money.

“The developers know what is needed, they know what is expected and they know what the people want.

“We are going to end up with a second-rate development.

“I can’t remember the last time we were delivered the amount of affordable housing we were promised.”

Presenting the application, TDBC officers added that they felt proposals were acceptable in terms of traffic impact, impact on the character of the surrounding area, and impact on the nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) of Quantock Hills.

They added there were not enough reasons to consider rejection for landscaping reasons, and that NHS had requested money as part of the application to fund a dentist and pharmacy facilities on the new development site.

As the meeting continued into its fourth hour, councillors voted to defer the applications - asking for the removal of the access point onto Corkscrew Lane, further information about an access point onto the main road which would see the removal of ancient trees, an increase in the percentage of affordable housing on the site, and asking for more information on the larger impact on highways across Taunton.

Following the deferral decision, a spokesman for the housing promoters said: “We are very disappointed with the decision as we’ve been working hard on these important plans for five years. We are now considering our next steps and will make a decision as soon as possible.”