RESIDENTS of a small village near Taunton face a fresh fight to prevent homes being built near the M5.

Gladman Developments has been striving to secure permission for a new development at North End in Creech St. Michael, which is separated by the motorway from the Monkton Heathfield urban extension in Taunton.

The Congleton-based developer was refused permission by Taunton Deane Borough Council to build 200 homes on the site in April 2018 – a decision subsequently upheld by the Planning Inspectorate in March 2019.

Somerset Council turned down plans in August for 100 homes on the same site, arguing it would damage the character of the village and the proposals did not provide enough support for local facilities.

The developer has now lodged an appeal on this latest refusal – with the Planning Inspectorate confirming a public inquiry will take place just after Christmas.

The site lies at the northern edge of Creech St. Michael, a few hundred yards from the motorway and less than half a mile from what will form the eastern edge of Monkton Heathfield under the current phase two proposals (which have yet to be approved by councillors).

Somerset County Gazette: Plans for the homes in North End in Creech St MichaelPlans for the homes in North End in Creech St Michael (Image: FCPR)

The site is not allocated for development within the Taunton Deane Local Plan, which was automatically adopted by subsequent councils in 2019 and 2023.

Under Gladman’s proposals, a new access road would have been created onto North End, with the bulk of the housing being clustered around two estate roads at the western and eastern edges.

A green buffer would have separated the new homes from the existing properties on North End and West View, with an attenuation pond to reduce the risk of flooding.

An improved pedestrian and cycle link will run along the southern edge of the site, providing an enhanced link between North End and the village’s recreation ground on Leighton Drive, partially following the existing public right of way.

The council refused the plans using the delegated powers of its planning officers, rather than a public decision by its planning committee west (which makes decision on major applications in the former Somerset West and Taunton area).

Mickey Green, the councillor’s executive director for climate and place, identified the following five reasons for refusal:

The development would represent a “significant visual intrusion” which would “change the character and appearance” of the village, eroding the natural boundary between Taunton and Creech St. Michael

The homes would have a “significantly adverse impact” on views from the nearby footpaths and existing homes due to the height of the land

The developer has put “no mechanism in place” to ensure the delivery of affordable housing, play facilities, contributions towards local schools or any other local amenities

Developing this site could “adversely affect the integrity” of the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site due to the potential rise in phosphate levels

The plans do not go far enough to “reduce the need to travel by private car” between the homes and local facilities

The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed the appeal will be settled through an in-person public inquiry, rather than written representations.

The inquiry is due to get under way on Tuesday, January 9 (at a venue to be confirmed) and is expected to last five days, including a site visit – with the inspector’s ruling being published by the early-spring.