A PARISH Council has spoken of its frustration after three years of effort has resulted in a watered down planning document.

Stogumber Parish Council has put together a Neighbourhood Plan but the chairman Chris Brammall described the process as 'tortuous'.

And where most towns in Somerset are fighting development, Stogumber actually wants more houses but has been told that more homes would be unsustainable due to the village's rural location and limited infrastructure.

"The id ea was first brought to the table five years ago, and for the last three years we have discussed it at length every two months at parish council meeting," Cllr Brammall said.

"Localism is supposed to be at the heart of the government's planning policy, but we have found the reality is that is still very top down," he said.

"We actually want more homes to support the village's school, pub and shop but we have been told that due to the limited infrastructure and poor roads here that would not be sustainable.

The Stogumber Neighbourhood Plan was voted for by parishioners in a referendum on October 5 and was ratified last week by West Somerset Council meaning the document must be consulted as part of the planning process.

The vote had a turnout of just 33 per cent, with 60 per cent voting in favour of having the policy adopted and 40 per cent saying no to the Neighbourhood Plan.

Cllr Brammall said: "We started off with a wishlist, put this into an initial plan which was looked at by West Somerset Council’s planning officers – they explained what we could do and could not do and it was soon adapted.

"It then went to an independent examiner, which saw our wishlist drawn back even further, for example we wanted to protect the quarry but we were told that was a county council matter – it was lots of niggling stuff that needed to be changed."

Cllr Brammall said Stogumber had been approached by other parishes looking into whether to press ahead with a neighbourhood plan, and warned them to proceed with caution.

"The finished document is not the same as what we wanted but it is better than nothing.

"It is certainly not a magic bullet but we have been able to put in legislation that we want the community's Beacon Field to be protected."

The government states that neighbourhood plans were brought in to help communities shape development in their areas.