DISUSED land behind a Wellington pub will be regenerated after the developer agreed to protect the “privacy and security” of a musical group based nearby.

Freemantle Capital Partners (Wellington) Ltd intends to demolish and replace buildings to the rear of Cornhill, and refurbish existing properties on the same street, to provide a total of 42 dwellings.

The land lies behind The Iron Duke public house, as well as a number of listed buildings, and has been vacant for a number of years.

Taunton Deane Borough Council approved the plans at its planning committee on Wednesday evening (February 6), despite concerns about car parking and the provision of affordable housing.

Geoffrey Samuel, chairman of the Wellington Silver Band, told the committee that a wall needed to be provided in the middle of the site to protect the band’s current base and their ground floor tenant.

He said: “We submitted concerns back in September which related to the privacy and security of our band room. We believed these had been addressed when the developers agreed to provide a wall to seal off the passageway.

“Somehow, an assumption has been made that the development can take over this private vehicular access to our boundary and turn it into a public footpath.

“We are at very high risk of losing the income from our tenant, which will have an impact on our ability to service our building.

“As the developers are still quite willing to provide the wall, and thereby maintain our privacy and security, we implore you to include it in this development.”

Mark Cullen, speaking on behalf of the developer, said he would be “really happy to deliver that wall” to keep the band in Wellington.

He also defended the lack of affordable housing within the site, stating that the developer was looking to secure central government funding to deliver low-cost housing within the site.

He said: “Freemantle is in advanced discussions with a registered housing provider, who upon approval are willing to take this scheme forward with a significant grant from Homes England.

“Cornhill Terrace is in a very poor state of repair, and the proposals will enable a sympathetic restoration and rebuilding of significant heritage assets. It will make a significant contribution to the conservation area.

“The businesses in Cornhill will also benefit from the footfall generated by the development. This will contribute much-needed houses in a sustainable location and help to revitalise the town.”

Planning officer Anna Penn stated in her written report that the site was “not viable for affordable housing” when previous plans were submitted in 2012, and that the historic buildings had “deteriorated” since this time.

But these arguments did not wash with a number of councillors, who questioned whether the development would meet local needs.

Councillor Simon Coles said: “I am concerned about the lack of parking – the provision for visitors is woefully short of our policy standards.

“While I am generally a half glass full chap, I am not sufficiently persuaded by the argument that ‘if we might get a registered housing provider, we might get an affordable housing scheme. On the other hand, we may not.

“I don’t think this we should be going against our own regulations and our own plan to get anything built there.”

Councillor Danny Wedderkopp added: “I won’t be supporting this for the simple reason that there’s no social housing.

“There’s no way the less well-off in Wellington will be able to live in this lovely development. It’s been kicked into the long grass yet again.”

Neil Carter, chairman of the Residents’ Association of Bishops Court, called for a rethink on the design to prevent elderly residents from being put at risk.

He said: “The concern we have is that with 42 units there and 41 spaces in a fairly confined area, we’re going to have a lot of traffic coming in and out.

“There’s going to be much more pedestrian traffic trying to cross this entrance, and there is no other alternative vehicular access.

“I’m not opposed to the whole idea; what I am concerned about is the safety of our residents, who have an average age of 75 years old.

“All it will take is for one person to be knocked down and people will stay: ‘how the hell did this ever get approved?’.”

By contrast, Councillor Gary James (who represents the Wellington East ward)  called on the committee to back the plans even if they didn’t satisfy the whole community.

He said: “We’ve waited in Wellington a long time for this site to be developed. It’s been languishing for decades.

“I’d like to see this development go ahead. We’ve been waiting a long time in  Wellington for this.

“It doesn’t satisfy everyone – the shop-owners down there aren’t happy that the fronts would be turned into shop fronts.

“Once it’s developed and looks nice, we can move on and move forward.”

Councillor Janet Reed (Wellington West and Rockwell Green) added: “We  are desperate to develop this site. Those buildings will fall down if we don’t build there very, very quickly.”

The committee ultimately voted to approve the plans by eight votes to two, on the condition that the developer provided a wall within the site to protect the Silver Band’s base.