New homes, a café and a work hub have been approved in a small Somerset village where localised flooding is a “present reality”.

Galion Homes put forward proposals in October 2021 to build 37 homes and commercial facilities on Baltonsborough Road at the north-eastern edge of Butleigh, near Glastonbury.

Local residents criticised the plans when they came before Somerset Council’s planning committee east in Shepton Mallet on Tuesday afternoon (March 5), arguing the village was growing too quickly and the new homes would worsen localised flooding.

But councillors ultimately voted to approve the proposals, meaning construction could get under way by the end of the year.

The site lies east of Butleigh’s community hall and playing fields, bordered to the east by the Wash Brook and the nearby solar farm.

The development will deliver 205 sq m of commercial space within the café  and work hub, which will comprise seven units at the south-western corner of the site.

In addition to the vehicular access on Baltonsborough Road, a pedestrian access will be created on Back Town, creating a safe round to Butleigh Church of England Primary School via Admiral’s Mead and the adjoining footpaths.

Of the 37 homes proposed for the site, 11 will be affordable – meeting the council’s 30 per cent target for any new development of ten homes or more within the former Mendip area.

The site, which lies within the River Brue catchment area, is one of numerous developments in Somerset held up by the ongoing phosphates crisis, with developers needing to secure additional mitigation to prevent any net increase in phosphates within the Somerset Levels and Moors catchment area.

To offset the phosphates from the new homes, agricultural land at two local farms currently used for cereal production will be replaced with woodland – with just over 32 hectares (79 acres) being removed from Higher Hill Farm in Glastonbury and a further four hectares (nearly 10 acres) being re-purposed at Manor Farm in West Lydford.

Galion founder Angus Macdonald told the committee that the development would deliver a “35 per cent biodiversity net gain” – far in excess of the government’s ten per cent threshold for new developments, which came into force in late-January.

But Jackie Lloyd, who lives near the site, said the growth of the village would not be proportionate, given Galion’s other proposed development of 32 homes on Sub Road at the other end of the settlement.

Outline permission for the scheme was granted in April 2020, with Galion subsequently acquiring the site and submitting details proposals in March 2023.

Ms Lloyd said: “This site is outside the development boundary, in the open countryside.

“Growth should be proportionate – the council’s housing allocation for Butleigh has been met. If this is granted, we will exceed our target by 26 per cent.

“The development is not a logical, organic extension of the village. The settlement edge at Baltonsborough Road and Back Town is clearly defined.”

Councillor Trevor Willmott, chairman of Butleigh Parish Council, added: “We continue to oppose this development. We point you to the Local Plan Part Ii update, in which you note the requirements of this village have already been met.

“You concluded in your assessment that this site is not suitable for allocation in the Local Plan Part II. Flooding is not a future possibility, but a present reality.

“At peak hours there is an enormous back of traffic near this development. A further 100-car increase, which this development would provide, would make passage through our high street, including for emergency vehicles, very difficult.”