NEARLY 60 new homes will be built in a growing village near the Somerset-Dorset border following the unanimous backing of local councillors.

Messrs. Parker, Davis and White put forward outline plans in February 2022 to construct 58 new homes to the north of Wheathill Lane in Milborne Port, near Sherborne.

A decision on the plans has been held up by the ongoing phosphates crisis, with Somerset Council’s planning officers negotiating with the developers to secure additional mitigation and prevent damage to the Somerset Levels and Moors.

The council’s planning committee south (which covers the former South Somerset area) has now given the plans its unanimous approval – with more detailed proposals expected to come forward by the end of the year.

The development site lies on the eastern edge of the village, between the cemetery, the recreation ground and the Gascoigne Park development of 65 homes, commercial space and a community hub currently being constructed by Redcliffe Homes.

Access from the new properties would be onto Wheathill Lane, to the east of the existing sports field and staggered with the existing junction onto Everlanes Close.

As part of the development, new pavement will be provided along Wheathill Lane towards the Gascoigne Park site, and a existing public right of way to the recreation ground (along the site’s western border) will be upgraded.

Of the 58 new homes, 21 will be affordable, meeting the council’s target of 35 per cent affordable housing for any new development of ten homes or more.

In addition, the development will provide open space to be used as community allotments and additional car parking for the cemetery, reducing on-street parking on Wheathill Lane itself.

Under the legal agreements between the council and the developer, more than £127,000 will be provided to the Beeches pre-school group, which forms part of Milborne Port Primary School.

Somerset County Gazette: Plans for the 58 homes.Plans for the 58 homes. (Image: Clifton Emery Design)

To prevent any net increase in phosphates, the developer will purchase phosphate credits generated from the fallowing of agricultural land at Woodrow Farm near Yeovil.

Councillor Nicola Clark, whose Blackmoor Vale division includes the site, spoke against the plans when the committee met in Yeovil on Tuesday afternoon (March 26).

She said: “This community and others in my division form the brunt of disproportionate development over the last three decades, straining resources and altering their place in the settlement hierarchy.

“Despite the proposed improvements, lingering issues around narrow roads and drainage inadequacies persist.

“If this application is approved, there must be rigorous reassessment and proactive measures to alleviate these concerns before construction commences.”

Milborne Port has seen significant interest from housing developers in recent years, in light of its proximity to the Blackmore Vale, Sherborne’s mainline rail services to London Waterloo and the failure of sites in larger towns and villages to come forward in good time.

In addition to the Gascoigne Park site, Bovis Homes recently completed 46 homes at The Hamlets development on Gainsborough, at the western end of the village.

Two other sizeable developments have been recently turned down – with plans for up to 30 homes on Station Road being thrown out by the Planning Inspectorate in October 2021, and proposals for 22 homes on Court Lane being refused by the council’s planning officers in February 2024.

Councillor Steve Ashton (Crewkerne) sought assurance that the cemetery would be adequately screened from the new homes to ensure mourners’ privacy.

He said: “I would like to see a substantial hedge maintained there between the housing and the cemetery. If you’re going to see a grave, you really wouldn’t want to be overlooked by housing.”

Councillor Martin Wale (Chard North) spoke warmly in favour of the plans, saying: “I’m very impressed with this.

“A lot of work has been done with the parish council – it’s an exemplar application.”

The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans after around half an hour’s debate.

A reserved matters application, detailing the design and layout of the new homes, is expected to be submitted to the council before the end of the year.