GREEN fields in Castle Cary will be “lost under a sea of houses” after proposals for 200 new homes were granted at appeal, writes Daniel Mumby.

Wyke Farms and Hopkins Development put forward outline plans for the A371 Station Road between the station and the town centre.

South Somerset District Council refused the plans, arguing the homes would create “a highly conspicuous scar upon our countryside”.

The Planning Inspectorate has now overturned that decision, ruling the scheme would benefit the wider district in spite of any localised harm to the landscape.

The site lies to the south of the station, opposite the former milk and cheese factory where a new cafe and tourism hub is being created.

Hayley Butcher, who chaired the inquiry, conceded the station is in “a predominantly isolated and rural setting” and there was “no doubt that developing this site as proposed would have visual impacts.”

But she ruled the site was not part of any designated protected landscape and did not have sufficient “tranquil characteristics” due to being surrounded by the busy A371 on three sides.

While she agreed the site was “not a suitable location” within the council’s Local Plan, she said there would be “no adverse impact” on the wider Somerset Levels and Moors provided sufficient mitigation was in place.

Ms Butcher added that the council’s claims of having a sufficient land supply for future homes would be “short-lived”, estimating the ongoing phosphates crisis was holding up the delivery of more than 5,000 properties in the district.

She said: “The proposal would meet a need for affordable housing which at the present time is not being met elsewhere.

“Cumulatively, when taken together, the benefits in this appeal are substantial and are not significantly and demonstrably outweighed by the adverse impacts.

“Local opposition to the development has been considerable. Nevertheless, it is incumbent on me to determine the appeal in accordance with planning law… [and] the material considerations in this case indicate planning permission should be granted.”

The decision has dismayed the Somerset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

They tweeted: “Now this rural landscape next to Castle Cary station will be lost under a sea of 200 houses – despite strong opposition by [the] local community and the council. Yes, we need more houses but this was not the right place.”