DOZENS of homes will be built near the M5 after the developer promised to create two orchards nearby, writes Daniel Mumby.

West of England Developments (Taunton) Ltd has won outline planning permission for 28 homes at Derham Close, Creech St Michael.

To mitigate the loss of agricultural land, the developer will plant two orchards – one near the homes, the other on the Ford Farm development in Norton Fiztwarren.

A number of residents in existing homes in Derham Close spoke of potential road safety issues and the loss of biodiversity at Somerset West and Taunton Council's planning meeting yesterday (Thursday, May 26).

Clare Sampson said: “It is outside the development boundary, and will have an adverse impact on wildlife – it cuts through an existing wildlife corridor.

“This is an existing small estate road, it is not designed for this additional traffic.

“The narrowing of the road could result in head-on collisions. The narrowing of the foot-ways could lead to pedestrians stepping out in front of a car.”

John Creighton, from nearby Hyde Lane, said: “The canal is a haven for wildlife. Six years ago, there were ospreys in that very field they want to develop. It also supports a family of otters, kingfishers and badgers."

Marie Stone said: "We are over-subscribed at the local surgery, the local school has limited capacity, and the Monkton Heathfield development is already creeping towards Creech.”

Cllr Ian Aldridge said: "Time and time again, we are always being spun that wildlife is being taken into account.

“Any development on any land which is greenfield is not going to improve things for the balance of ecology and wildlife.”

The site was not identified for housing growth in the district council’s Local Plan or the Creech St Michael Neighbourhood Plan.

Cllr Gwil Wren said: “This is an object lesson in the way that neighbourhood plans don’t always work out in the way that residents think they ought to. The plan seems to be having a coach and horses driven through it.”

He added: “While I’m never keen on developments outside the limits of the development plan, this is quite a high bar to cross.”

The committee voted seven to four to approve the plans on condition the alternative access be used for construction, and all legal agreements regarding the site should be signed within six months.