ON September 20, the Planning Committee voted to defer the two planning applications for over 1,600 houses around Staplegrove and the Kingston Road area.

As could be expected, the meeting was very well attended, with 22 people speaking against the proposals and the two promoters and one other person for the schemes.

There were no real surprises about the main concerns. Many on the committee were concerned about the building of estates of up to 600 houses off the narrow and hazardous roads of Manor Road, Corkscrew Lane and Kingston Road before any infrastructure might be provided by developers.

READ MORE: Decision over 1,600 homes at Staplegrove deferred

The reduction of the percentage of affordable housing from a quarter to 15 per cent and the felling of mature oak trees on Kingston Road were also serious concerns expressed by members of the Planning Committee.

Many in the audience were pleased by the comments of Councillor Andrew Sully, who stated he had calculated the profit out of the schemes were likely to be around £70 million for the promoters, developers and landowners, and he therefore felt that the estimated cost of £7.2 million for the Spine Road should be spent upfront.

Doing this would save substantial parts of Manor Road, Corkscrew Lane and Kingston Road becoming a vast building site for at least five years. (My own calculations suggest that the profits figure is much higher).

I believe that it is interesting to look at the initial promoter of the scheme, PM Asset Management.

According to its website, the company specialises in funds for “sophisticated investors”, “offering returns typically between 15 per cent and 24 per cent per annum”.

I find it quite amazing that the company can assure everyone at a consultation meeting at Staplegrove Village Hall on July 3 2015, that the Spine Road would be completed before any houses were built, but then states that to meet the profit expectations of promoters, developers and landowners, this is now impossible.

READ MORE: Reaction to Staplegrove planning debate

Is it any wonder that people are cynical about promises?

I believe the housing market is rigged in Britain. Houses here are roughly 40 per cent more expensive than the average of other European countries, and so many times developers fail to deliver the number of houses.

They have planning permissions but conveniently, by one means or another, stop when the promised infrastructure has to be delivered. 
Developers and promoters are gaming the planning system.

We do have a housing crisis but we are not building the right houses that people really need in the right places.

Most of us want to see well designed right-sized schemes, but the Staplegrove/North Taunton schemes are deeply flawed and would cause immense negative long-term ramifications to our county town.