MORE than 70 new homes will be built on the edge of a small Somerset town following a vote by local councillors.

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).

Somerset Council’s planning committee west voted to defer a decision on the plans when it met in early-May to allow more information to be provided about the car parking provision, drainage and the allotments promised within the development site.

The same committee voted to approve the plans when it met on Tuesday, June 25 – despite ongoing concerns about the affordable homes and who would pay to maintain the infrastructure.

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.

The site lies on the northern side of Burges Lane.The site lies on the northern side of Burges Lane. (Image: Clifton Emery Design)

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 county 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.

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 Hazlewood, representing members of the Willow Mead Residents’ Association, said local people accepted the need for new homes but had unresolved concerns about who would be responsible for maintaining an attenuation pond to the west of the Lovell site.

He told the committee: “We believe that putting the ownership for the full management of the attenuation onto ourselves is incorrect.

“There is scope to share this responsibility, and we are not averse to that.”

Councillor Dave Mansell, whose Upper Tone division includes Wiveliscombe, agreed: “However this situation has arisen, whether through the council or the developers, it’s not fair and should not have happened.

“Electric vehicle charging points should be put in – what’s the difficulty? It’s absolutely standard these days.

“There is a big problem with displaced parking – 24 to 28 car park along Burges Lane during the day, and only 14 spaces have been provided along there under these plans.”

Councillor Andy Hadley (Minehead) added: “All of the affordable housing is right at the south-west corner – that’s not integrated into the estate.

“That does give me concern – they are all concentrated into one area, and that could led to some sort of problem.”

Despite these concerns, the committee voted to approve the plans by five votes to zero, with three abstentions, after around half an hour’s debate.