RESIDENTS of a major new Somerset development face a long and muddy walk to their local facilities if they want to avoid a busy main road.

Gladman Developments applied in October for outline permission to build 315 homes and a convenience store on Exeter Road in the village of Rockwell Green in Wellington, directly opposite the Monument View housing development which is currently under construction.

As part of the development, Gladman will provide new pavements along its section of Exeter Road, linking up with existing footways along the busy main road road into Wellington.

But those wishing to avoid this route, which experiences significant traffic at peak times, will have to rely on meandering, muddy and often flood-prone rights of way, which may not be upgraded if the homes are approved.

The new homes will be accessed from a new junction near the entrance to Monument View, with the new homes wrapping around the Pitt Farm Park Homes site to the east.

New footpaths will be provided within the development site, linking the new homes near Exeter Road with the public open space earmarked for the north-eastern corner, near the Dobree Park estate.

However, Gladman has not specified whether the existing rights of way through the site, which link Exeter Road with Dobree Park, will be enhanced or resurfaced if approval is granted.

A spokesman for FPCR (representing the Congleton-based developer) said: “We wish to create a distinctive and high-quality place, which respects and enhances the character and assets of Rockwell Green while ensuring connectivity with the existing community.

Somerset County Gazette: Plans for the development.Plans for the development. (Image: FPCR)

“A looped foot-way and cycleway will be provided around the site, to allow residents the flexibility to form running routes and walk their dog if desired.

“Key to the development’s inherent sustainability are the significant on and off-road recreational routes that link in with the existing public right of way network.

“This is designed to encourage modal shift away from car use, and provide a looped route around the development for recreation and leisure.”

While Rockwell Green has its own primary school and post office, residents wishing to use supermarkets or access medical facilities will have to travel into Wellington.

The existing footpath from Exeter Road to Dobree Park is low-lying compared to the rest of the Gladman site, with significant sections being inaccessible without Wellington boots owing to thick mud.

From Dobree Park, the route towards Wellington town centre is somewhat more consistent and stable – but it is still very narrow in places and has steep steps (such as the connection with Rockwell Green Road), making it hard to navigate for pushchair or wheelchair users.

The footpaths through the Basins green space – whose long-term future was secured in February – are hard-standing on one side of the main stream, but the right bank leading toward Wellington Sports Centre is also prone to being muddy or waterlogged.

From the sports centre (which is currently being upgraded using central government funding), pedestrians and cyclists face a straightforward route to the town centre via Beech Grove, Wellington Park and the existing rights of way around the football club.

Dozens of concerned residents of both Wellington and Rockwell Green have already objected to the plans via Somerset Council’s official planning portal.

Caragh Colegate, who lives on Warren Street in Rockwell Green, said: “The houses at Monument View are still being constructed and many are yet to be sold – why do we need an additional 300 or more?

“Where are the amenities or services that will support the huge number of houses erected at Monument View, let alone 315 more?

“Building on these green spaces could increase flooding along Exeter Road.”

The Somerset integrated care board (which allocates health resources across the county) has requested more than £140,000 from the development, which could be used to expand either of Wellington’s existing doctors’ surgeries.

Luson Surgery on Fore Street was one of 14 surgeries identified by NHS bosses in 2020 as needing to either expand or relocate in light of housing growth in the surrounding area.

Nicholas Farnham, who lives on Pinksmoor Line on the outskirts of Wellington, said: “I am shocked that this is even being considered.

“Wellington and Rockwell Green have undergone intensive development very
recently. Currently I cannot get easy access to a dentist, a doctor or hospital.

Somerset County Gazette: Fore Street in Wellington.Fore Street in Wellington. (Image: Daniel Mumby)

“The schools are oversubscribed and traffic though the town and at Chelston is like living in London. Crime has also spiralled, but with a noticeable lack of
policing this has not been contained.”

Chris Wasey, who lives on Dobree Park, said: “If this development goes ahead, families in Dobree Park will no longer be able to walk straight into the open countryside because the existing footpaths across the fields will be surrounded by houses.

“This is something my children loved doing but will be denied to future generations if this development is allowed to go ahead. They will instead need
to be taken by car to find open countryside and therefore damage the environment.”

Caroline Wingrove, who lives in Lower Westford, added: “There is little local
employment available to these prospective residents, so they will need to travel.

“The site is therefore very likely to become a car dependent, M5 commuter estate, with all the issues that brings.

“Local people are proud of our town and have engaged in multiple consultations on its future plans.

“This proposed development sits outside of the local development plan. If this development goes ahead, it will represent a complete failure of local democracy.”

Neither the Gladman site nor the Monument View site were allocated in the Taunton Deane Core Strategy, with the latter site being granted on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate in 2018 due to a lack of housing being delivered on other allocated sites.

Somerset Council is expected to make a ruling on the Gladman proposals in the spring.