MORE than 80 new homes will be built near a busy Somerset truck stop after councillors voted to approve amended plans – without any discussion.

David Wilson Homes applied for permission in January to build the homes north of the Nunney Catch services near Frome, just off a busy roundabout on the A361.

Mendip District Council granted permission for the homes off Green Pits Lane in July – only for the plans to be changed to amend emergency access to the site and allow gas storage tanks to be included.

The council’s planning board has now waved through these revised plans – without any discussion or debate about the changes.

Somerset County Gazette:

The council’s planning policies allow its planning board to vote to accept an officer’s recommendation (whether to approve or refuse planning permission) without public discussion – even if the application in question is listed on the agenda for a public meeting.

The council has used this numerous times in the past – mainly on applications relating to the Commerce Park in Frome, where policy dictates all decisions regarding the site (however minimal) must come before a public meeting.

The board met virtually on Wednesday evening (April 21), with the revised Nunney proposals being the first application due to be discussed.

However, Councillor Damon Hooton (who chairs the planning board) asked that these plans be approved in line with the officer’s recommendation without discussion – something which did not sit well with several councillors.

Councillor Lindsay MacDougall said: “If our Local Plan had something on more encouragement for renewable energy, it might be worth discussing this one -but we’ve decided not to do this.”

Somerset County Gazette: Proposed Site Of 82 Homes In Nunney, Seen From Green Pits Line. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

Councillor John Clarke attempted to get the application discussed in public – but was informed that to do this, the item would have to be deferred to the next board meeting in May to give officers and the public sufficient notice.

The committee quickly voted by ten votes to four to accept the new plans without further debate.

Councillor Francis Hayden – whose Cranmore, Doulting and Nunney ward includes the site – was one of the four who voted against, along with Mr Clarke (Frome Market), Ms MacDougall (Glastonbury St Mary’s) and Councillor Edric Hobbs (Shepton West).