QUESTIONS have been raised over Watchet’s ability to cope with a further 500 homes after plans for a third major housing development were unveiled.

Summerfield Homes and Grass Roots Planning Ltd have already proposed creating up to 250 homes on land at Liddymore Farm and 139 homes on land south of Doniford Road.

But now planning consultant Martin Lee is working with a local landowner on plans for another 133 homes on Cleeve Hill.

Around 25 residents packed into the visitor centre for Watchet Town Council’s meeting on Monday night, when Mr Lee gave a presentation on the plan.

Mr Lee says the plan should be given priority over the other two developments as it is identified as a long-term ‘key strategic development site’ in West Somerset Council’s Local Plan.

“This is the first step in a consultation exercise and is not an official planning document yet,” Mr Lee said.

“One of the key aspects is we would be able to put in a cliff top road diversion of the B3191 at no cost to the taxpayer - this will be a major diversion at a very high cost which will preserve an essential connection.

"This will have a major impact on the sustainability of both Blue Anchor and Watchet.”

Questions were asked by residents about whether there would be enough investment from the developers of the schemes in infrastructure, school places and doctors to enable Watchet to cope with the extra homes. But

Mr Lee said that besides the diversion road, these were matters for Somerset County Council and the NHS.

However, Councillor Loretta Whetlor said she felt the road diversion was a ‘carrot being dangled’ in front of the authorities.

“The road is in danger and yet we seem to be being told the only way to get the road diverted is by having these new homes,” Cllr Whetlor said.

Mr Lee said it was unlikely Somerset County Council would have funds themselves to redirect the road.

Cllr Robin Nuttall felt other issues were being glossed over such as whether the sewerage, gas, electricity and broadband systems in place in Watchet were capable of accommodating the extra homes or whether they would need upgrading.