UP to 80 new homes and new industrial units could be built near a recently-completed McDonald’s restaurant near the A303.

Abbey Manor Homes Ltd has submitted plans for a new mixed development on the north side of the A371 Lawrence Hill, in Wincanton, mere yards from where the fast food chain opened a new branch in February.

The Yeovil-based developer believes the development is the best way to meet both local housing needs and demand for local employment as the town continues to grow.

South Somerset District Council will decide whether the development will go ahead when its regulation committee meets virtually on Tuesday morning (April 20).

The site lies opposite the Hopkins Concrete plant, to the west of the existing Wincanton Business Park and the New Barns Farm housing development.

The new business units will be built in seven blocks closest to the A371, with a new arm being created onto the existing roundabout which serves the Wincanton Gateway services – which currently includes a McDonalds, KFC, Travelodge and the Wagtail pub.

Somerset County Gazette: PLAN: A map showing the proposed 80 homes and industrial units development site (red) with the existing business park (blue) and the west hill site owned by Gladman Developments (yellow)
PLAN: A map showing the proposed 80 homes and industrial units development site (red) with the existing business park (blue) and the west hill site owned by Gladman Developments (yellow)

The new units would deliver a total of 9,000 sq ft of employment space, divided between light industrial use (4,500 sq ft), general industry and storage or distribution (2,250 sq ft for each use).

The new homes will be built further north, with a pedestrian and cycling access being created onto Crocker Way to make it easier for residents to access to the town centre and the local leisure facilities – such as Cale Park and the swimming pool on West Hill.

The outline plans do not indicate how many of the proposed homes would be affordable – with council policy usually insisting at least 35 per cent should be affordable for any new development of ten homes or more.

However, a previous viability study for 70 homes on the site concluded that it would not be possible to deliver both affordable homes and employment units.

Planning officer Colin Begeman stated in his written report: “The viability report indicates that the cost of delivering serviced employment premises is sufficiently burdensome to compromise the viability of the proposal.

“There is a material benefit of delivering more employment premises in Wincanton and the development will deliver a significant amount of square footage.

“As such it is considered that it is worth reducing affordable housing policy requirements to facilitate the development.”

READ MORE: McDonald's restaurant opens in Wincanton

The site is identified for development in both the council’s Local Plan (which is currently under review) and its Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA), which was carried out in 2018.

The development would also include a potential access to the neighbouring West Hill site (also known as Hook Valley Farm) should further housing be approved there.

Gladman Developments put forward plans for 210 homes on the West Hill site in mid-2019 – but these were ultimately refused by the council’s area east committee in June 2020.

Somerset County Council, which is responsible for education matters, has requested a contribution of £392,702 from the Abbey Manor Group towards delivering new school places at Wincanton Primary School.

The school opened an extension to its existing base on the B3081 South Street in April 2018, following a land swap with developer Cavanna Homes.

The developer is currently constructing 60 new homes between the town’s cemetery and the health centre on Dyke’s Way, after permission was granted by the council back in 2016.

A spokesman for Places By Design (representing the Abbey Manor Group) said: “The proposed development would contribute to delivering the required housing supply in Wincanton. This would reduce the reliance on windfall sites to meet these targets.

“Public open space of around 2.1 hectares is proposed in the middle of the Site, with green buffers proposed along both the western and eastern boundaries.

“The site access junction has been designed to take account of the future residential development expansion both to the north-west and north.”

The council’s regulation committee will meet virtually to discuss the plans on Tuesday (April 20) from 10am. The meeting will be live-streamed via the council’s official YouTube channel.