DEVELOPERS behind a 2,000-home estate on the edge of Taunton say they are committed to working with people living nearby.

The consortium behind the Orchard Grove site between Comeytrowe and Trull defended their interaction with existing neighbours following criticism.

Charlie Gough, who lives nearby, claimed locals only found out by chance that a public consultation event into the eastern section of the development was taking place earlier this month.

He said: "Few residents got any notification of meeting this month.

"The consortium said leaflets had been sent out, but we're only aware of one person who received.

"Fortunately we discovered about it and it was posted on Facebook."

But Mr Gough was unimpressed by the online event, saying: "It was quite vague in places and very poor quality.

"A Q&A cut off and nothing was shared with public.

"There had been a survey, but we were unable to submit comments as they drove us to the answers they wanted to hear.

"It all feels very cut and dried and many of us fear it will be pushed through without any public input."

The eastern neighbourhood development is the second and final phase of the Orchard Grove scheme, which will feature a primary school, local centre, open spaces, play areas, allotments, sports pitches and business park, along with a new A38 gateway junction and park and bus service.

An Orchard Grove Consortium spokeswoman said the proposed design guide for the eastern neighbourhood sets out "general design principles and standards".

She added: "The purpose of this consultation was to inform the creation of the design guide for the eastern neighbourhood.

"No planning applications nor specific plans for the site formed part of this exercise."

The consultation involved presentations to planners, councillors and Trull community representatives, followed by a month-long public consultation.

She added: "Working within the constraints of the pandemic, efforts were made to share the information with local residents in a responsible, safe, and timely way.

"A digital presentation and explanatory video content were made available on the Orchard Grove website, and feedback was invited through an online survey.

"An extensive local leaflet drop took place, with 3,000 printed leaflets delivered to invite those living locally to view the materials online and take part in the survey.

"Ordinarily a meeting and physical display would be the chosen route to communicate plans to the community, however this was simply not possible under Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings.

"Orchard Grove Consortium is committed to working with the existing local community and local authorities to create an outstanding new development that benefits the area."