I WAS astonished recently to see the roundabout that is being built to serve the new housing development at Hartnells Farm, at Monkton Heathfield.

Astonished firstly because it is excessive in terms of serving a development of that size (a smaller, priority junction is all that should be required) and also shocked because it completely ruins much of what remains of the semi-rural character of Monkton Heathfield.

Over the past decade, the local authorities in this area - which means the former Taunton Deane Borough Council as planning authority and Somerset County Council as highway authority - are, between them, guilty of seriously failing to learn how to ensure that new development is of good design and respects its context.

One may or may not agree with the amount of development that is taking place around Taunton and Wellington, but the local authorities have no excuse for not following good practice (for example, as contained in the document, ‘Manual for Streets’), or failing to produce the Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) that experience has shown are needed to ensure good design.

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There are plenty of examples elsewhere of how to do this (such as Poundbury, Cranbrook, Sherford, Upton), of which the two councils should be well aware.

It has been known for many years that allocating land for development in a Local Plan, and then doing virtually nothing until the developers put in a planning application, does not yield acceptable results.

The truth of this is now, unfortunately, becoming self-evident across Taunton Deane.