A DECISION on new homes in Wiveliscombe has been pushed back until concerns about car parking can be addressed.

Lone Star Property LLP secured outline planning permission from Somerset West and Taunton Council in April 2020 to deliver up to 71 new homes on Burges Lane at the northern edge of Wiveliscombe.

The site was subsequently acquired by Lovell Homes, which submitted revised plans for the same number of homes (albeit with slightly different access arrangements into the land).

The plans came before Somerset Council’s planning committee west on May 1, with councillors being recommended to approve the revised proposals.

But the committee instead voted to defer a decision until more information had been provided about the car parking provision – as well as addressing concerns about drainage and new allotments.

The site lies on the northern side of Burges Lane, a stone’s throw from the Wivey Gym and the Exmoor Brewery.

Access would be created by upgrading the existing junction of Burges Lane and Luxton Road, with a new T-junction being created on the northern side of the road.

In addition to the new homes, a narrow strip of land at the north-western corner will be allocated for new allotments within the development proposals.

Lovell Homes – which will shortly begin construction on 80 homes in Dene Road in Cotford St. Luke – intends for at least 18 of the new homes to be affordable, meeting the council’s 25 per cent target for any new development of ten homes or more within the town.

The development is one of many across the former Somerset West and Taunton area which has been delayed by the ongoing phosphates crisis, with developers having to secure additional mitigation to prevent damage to the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Somerset County Gazette: Councillors have voted to defer a decision on the plans.Councillors have voted to defer a decision on the plans. (Image: Clifton Emery Design)

To offset the impact of the new homes, farmland a few miles from Kingston St. Mary will be taken out of commission, with new orchards and woodland being planted in its place.

Peter Berman, a member of the Wiveliscombe Civic and Historical Society, spoke against the plans when the planning committee west met in Taunton on May 1.

He said: “The outline application showed an estate road going into the development – not every house having access along Burges Lane, and that is a huge difference.

“Wiveliscombe is a small town, and this site is within ten minutes’ easy walk of the town centre. The car parking on this side of the town isn’t brilliant anyway.

“We didn’t object to the outline application because it had a totally different layout. If it had this layout, we would have suggested they needed to widen Burges Lane.”

Trevor Gilbert, chairman of the Willow Mead Residents’ Association, said that questions remained about the drainage arrangements within the site and who would be responsible for its future management.

He said: “The new larger attenuation pond brings with it increased maintenance costs. It cannot be considered as reasonable or proportionate to leave all these costs on a minority of existing residents.”

Councillor Dave Mansell (whose Upper Tone division includes Wiveliscombe) said there were “big problems” with the development which had not been resolved since the plans were first put forward.

He elaborated: “There is no-one identified to manage the allotments and public car parking spaces being provided.

“Parking is a problem all over Wiveliscombe, and there are real hotspots where it is bad. This is a hotspot – 14 spaces is not enough, and we need to look again at the access onto Heathstock Hill.”

Councillor Gwilym Wren (who represents the same division) said he was “astonished” by the access proposals into the site, adding: “I can only assume the developers are trying to shoehorn in as many homes as they can.

“Developers need to work with the communities they are joining, and this seems a particularly tin-eared approach to making friends and influencing people.”

The committee voted to delay a decision on the plans by a margin of nine votes to zero, with one abstention.