AN attempt is being made to draw the Prince of Wales into a campaign to prevent a developer potentially building "a new town" of more than 16,000 homes on the outskirts of Taunton.

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey says it currently has no plans for 1,100 acres of land at Orchard Portman running east of the M5, which it bought from the Crown Estate in a multi-million pound deal.

But notes from a meeting between the company and Highways England make reference to "1,000 units" and a "5/6,000 new community" of people.

Taunton resident David Orr is outraged Taylor Wimpey is "planning" the houses outside the county town's settlement boundary "on a massive greenfield agricultural site".

He said: "At a density of 16 homes per acre, the Orchard Portman estate could, over time, support over 16,000 homes - that's 48,000 people. That is potentially at a new town scale.

"I am going to be writing to the Prince of Wales as to whether Crown Estate has a policy of consulting openly with local planning authorities when major land sales to big developers occur near towns, but outside existing settlement boundaries and current development plans.

"Does the Prince of Wales ensure the Crown Estate retains a role in the new settlement housing designs so it is more Poundbury than Camberwick Green?"

Somerset County Gazette:

A Taylor Wimpey spokesman said the figures in the meeting notes about the land it bought in December were "indicative only and not reflective of an exiting proposal".

He added: "This is a long-term strategic purchase and we currently have no firm plans for the land, including the potential number of new homes or other community-uses that could be delivered.

"Along with other landowners and stakeholders we will make representations as part of the local plan process in due course, which members of the public will be able to view and comment on.

"Should we bring a proposal forward we will seek extensive feedback from the local community."

Somerset West and Taunton Council is currently reviewing and extending from 2028 to 2040 its local plan, which outlines where housing development could take place. That work is likely to take two years.

Planning portfolio holder Cllr Mike Rigby said: "The current administration is very keen to see that planning applications are determined in strict accordance with the local plan.

"The land (at Orchard Portman) isn't in the local plan and, as things stand, there's nothing in the local plan that would suggest there will be large scale housing development on the east side of the motorway."

It is believed the council is keen to slow the planned speed of housing growth in the area and any aspirations Taylor Wimpey has to build houses east of the motorway will need to be tested in the local plan review.