ALMOST 500 people have joined forces to try to block proposals for 136 new cliff-top homes on agricultural land in West Somerset.

Watchet residents opposed to the development have set up the Cleeve Hill Action Group and linked up with Watchet Conservation Society to plead with Somerset West and Taunton Council planners to reject the application.

As well as the homes, the applicants wish to create a new vehicular access, estate roads, a pathway, cycleways and recreational space.

They would also need to reroute the B3191, which opponents claim would cost millions of pounds.

Co-organisers of the action group, Alison Mills and Jan Martin, who both live in Watchet, and David Evans, chairman of Watchet Conservation Society, issued a joint statement saying: "We feel compelled to do something before it’s too late.

“We intend that district councillors are fully aware of the contentious nature of this proposed development and are in a position to make an informed choice when the planning application is placed before the planning committee.”

Action group members have produced a drone film to support their claims that the steepness of the site, the narrowness of the B3191, the fragility of the cliffs west of Watchet and up Cleeve Hill are prohibitive, while the proposed access point via West Street is "impossible".

Ms Mills added: "How can outline planning permission be given when there is no way to ensure safe access for pedestrians, pushchair users, cyclists, and people with limited mobility?

"They haven’t explained how a Section 106 order (planning gain) could be enforced to ensure that Watchet doesn't become dogged by intractable traffic problems, when there is no possibility of mitigating the effects of extra traffic and no feasible way to encourage other means of accessing the town from the site."

Expert geologist Dr Andy King says the geological features and structures have led to "cliff instability, particularly in the areas adjoining Cleeve Hill and the proposed realignment of the B3191".

He says the proposed site is close to "soft, structurally deformed and rapidly eroding cliffs with areas of landslip" and questions whether rock nails and mesh would be sufficient to stabilise the cliff top.

Dr King also believes any work on the cliffs could have "knock-on effects" for Watchet Harbour and damage the Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The County Gazette approached the applicants' agent for a comment.