WHEN will common sense break out on planning decisions taking place in the centre of Taunton?

The latest approval, on Wednesday, December 5, was agreed by the Planning Committee of Taunton Deane Borough Council, to erect 164 flats and 18 houses on the site of the former gasworks adjacent to the new third-way bridge on the southern side of the River Tone.

Why was scant regard given to the increased risks of flooding that this is going to bring about for the centre of town, especially in light of the remodelling of the one-in-100 years chances occurring because of changing weather patterns brought about by climate change?

This includes the yet undeveloped Firepool site.

Why did the committee ignore its core strategy to ensure that 25 per cent of all dwellings should be affordable to ease the pressure for low-income families who are struggling and having to devote as much as 60 per cent of their take-home pay on accommodation?

Surely, the developers could at least make a large contribution to providing these homes on other sites in Taunton.

Why is it allowing seven storeys of apartment blocks to be built in such a prominent place affecting the two-storey terraced housing in Clarence Street and dominating the skyline for miles around?

Why are they only providing 155 car parking spaces for the whole site, when the adopted SCC Car Parking Strategy stipulates a minimum of 253?

This will only lead to increased congestion and disruption for existing local residents.

READ MORE: Plans for more than 160 homes in Taunton approved

Why is there no guarantee that the cycle places expected (one for every bedroom in the application - more than 350 in total) as identified in the plans could now be so easily overlooked when building starts?

I understand that only two members of the committee opposed the application; one Liberal Democrat and one independent.

Eight other members supported it, with one or two councillors abstaining. The predominantly Tory committee yet again failed to fight for their own core strategy and succumbed to the pressure posed by a national housebuilder, Galliford Try.

This is an industry which has almost a monopoly in obtaining planning permissions by insisting on having a 20 per cent margin in 'financial viability' without disclosure of their costings if challenged by local authorities.

We have already witnessed the incompetence of the Tory administration in the overspend on the Deane House refurbishment - some £7.5 million on a building which will be worth only £3 million on completion.

On top of this, we are already aware that the proposed £3.5 million of savings estimated that will come from the merger of TDBC with the failing West Somerset Council will fall acutely short of this because of the huge overspend on the new IT requirements - probably some £500,000 - and all this is throwing good money after bad.

This squandering of taxpayers' money is the result of Tory mismanagement, poor judgement and failure to utilise resources properly.

Factor in the further cost of the likely merger with Somerset County Council and you can understand why there is widespread disbelief at the Tories' claim to be 'guardians of the public purse'.

This unsatisfactory state of affairs and lack of common sense is uncannily similar to the chaos that Theresa May and the Conservatives are inflicting on the county with their unacceptable proposals for Brexit.

Or am I just too cynical with my words about what is happening in Taunton town centre as well?

Liberal Democrat