I REFER to your news item (August 14) regarding the suggestion by Taylor Wimpey that they should be allowed to build housing east of the M5.

I would strongly urge Somerset West and Taunton Council not to allow the county town to expand east of the motorway, as it would be about as ‘un-green’ a location for new development as could be imagined.

Back in 2010, the Commission for Integrated Transport (a body sadly abolished by the Coalition government) issued very clear advice as to where major new development should be located.

This definitely did not include sites at motorway junctions or close to other fast main roads, as such locations tend to result in up to 90% of trips being made by private car.

It should be obvious that any development east of the M5 would involve everyone having to pass through Junction 25 to get into Taunton, as well as encouraging long-distance car commuting along the motorway.

It would also result in the road through Ruishton and Creech St Michael effectively becoming part of the Taunton urban network, with predictably grim results for the people who live in those villages.

There is arguably already too much greenfield land allocated for development around Taunton.

Overly optimistic targets for attracting new jobs have brought with them a requirement for more housing for the hypothetical workforce. Both the job targets and the housing numbers need to be scaled back, and a greater emphasis placed on brownfield development, particularly within central Taunton.

READ MORE: Will housebuilder be allowed to develop east of the M5 near Taunton?

I have lived in Taunton for much of my life, and have witnessed the steady but remorseless ‘Los Angeles-isation’ of the area, as a decent county town has been engulfed by nondescript housing estates, roads, retail sheds and business parks.

The approach to the town from the M5 is particularly poor: as a visiting planner from Australia once said to me, “Why on earth did you have to allow that?”

‘Demand Better’ was the slogan put out by the Liberal Democrats at the local elections.

The planning of Taunton is certainly a key area where better performance is needed.

Chair, RTPI South West Region, 2016