A housing developer is taking legal action against Somerset Council in a bid to prevent further delays to building 130 new homes on the Somerset-Dorset border.

The Planning Inspectorate granted outline permission to Gladman Developments back in November 2018 to build up to 130 homes on Woodhayes Way in Henstridge.

The site was subsequently sold to Barratt David Wilson Homes, who secured more delayed permission for the same number of homes in May 2022 on what has been christened the Townsend Landings site.

As part of the outline planning permission, numerous road safety improvements had to be agreed with the local authority and implemented before any of the new homes could be constructed and occupied.

Somerset Council has twice turned down the developer’s proposals to improve different sections of the busy and narrow A357 – once in October 2023, and again in April 2024.

The developer has now lodged further appeals with the Planning Inspectorate in a bid to get central government to sign off on its road improvements and allow building work to begin before the outline planning permission expires.

The A357 forms a north-south spine of the village, connecting it to Stalbridge and other communities in north Dorset as well as the crucial A30 running between Sherborne and Shaftesbury.

The road is extremely narrow in place, with limited pavements, and there are few alternative routes through the village for pedestrians and cyclists.

During the general election campaign, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates clashed over whether a new bypass could be delivered through the village.

The improvements put forward by the developer concern the section north of the Townsend Landings site, between the junction with Blackmoor Lane and the crossroads linking it with Furge Lane and Marsh Lane.

The developer originally committed to providing the following elements in this area:

Dropped kerbs and tactile paving at five junctions heading off Woodhayes Way and one on Furge Lane

Road safety signs warning motorists of pedestrians at the junctions of the A357 with Church Street and Furge Lane

Traffic lights in a “signal-controlled priority arrangement” on the A357 at the crossroads with Furge Lane and Marsh Lane

While the developer has stated it can fulfil the first two of these obligations, it has argued that traffic lights at the Marsh Lane crossroads could not be safely installed due to the layout of the junction.

Under these latest proposals, a 20mph speed limit will be implemented between the junction with Church Street and the junction with Marsh Lane, with traffic calming measures being implemented along this section near the village’s Post Office.

A signal-controlled priority system will be implemented at the narrowest point of the road, with bollards being installed to create a safer route for pedestrians.

Additional street lighting will also be installed on the pathway between Church Street and St Nicholas Close, with the pavement opposite the allotments on Furge Grove being extended north by around eight metres.

The most recent plans were refused unanimously by the council’s planning committee south when it met in Yeovil on April 22.

Councillor Sue Osborne (who represents Ilminster and the neighbouring villages) stated at the time: “I’ve not heard a single thing that convinces me that this scheme is workable, practical, feasible or enforceable.

“I would have expected more from the applicant in terms of persuading us that this is the best they can do.”

Councillor Henry Hobhouse (Castle Cary) agreed, stating: “We’ve now had three solutions for dealing with an A-road which is too narrow to put two lorries past each other in the centre of this village.

“There is a fundamental point here about the condition the inspector put on and the date that the developer should have started this and hasn’t.

“He’s in trouble and is now trying to get rid of or delay that condition.”

A spokesman for Barratt David Wilson Homes said: “We are committed to making Henstridge an even better place to live.

“Our proposed development of 130 high-quality new homes will include 46 that are affordable.

“This will make a genuine difference to the lives of young people and families in the area who are struggling to get onto the housing ladder.

“Beyond the homes themselves, we’re also creating new green open spaces, a fun new play area for kids and fresh, modern places for young people to spend their time.”

The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed this matter will be settled through a public inquiry, which will take place on October 8 – meaning the final outcome will be announced before Christmas.

To make a formal representation, visit www.acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk and quote appeal numbers 3344570, 3344571, 3344572, 3344573 and 3344574 before July 24.

A decision of a separate application for 52 homes on the opposite side of the A357 is expected to be determined by the council before the end of the year.