We are sorry, and disappointed, to report that, on Wednesday morning, South Somerset District Council (SSDC)’s Regulation Committee in Yeovil overrode the 9 October rejection from our local Area East Councillors, and voted to approve the 60-home Brewham Road southside development in principle, together with its dangerous pedestrian access proposals.

Chair of Bruton Town Council, Ewan Jones, said…

“The Bruton community did itself proud in making clear and professional presentations on why this planning application had to be rejected.

SSDC had received legal advice on the difficulty of proving ‘demonstrable harm’ to defend the integrity of their Local Plan Settlement Hierarchy. Sadly, many of the Yeovil area Councillors also seemed to have made up their minds to place the financial risks of losing an Appeal to the Planning Inspector above road safety.”

It was notable that the only three Councillors to prioritise pedestrian safety were women. I now only hope that the verbal commitments made by District Councillors not to cave in to developer pleas to remove the promised social and affordable housing on grounds of ‘financial viability’ will be honoured.”

Chair of the Town Council’s Transport Committee, James Hood, said…

“My personal view has long been that our current planning laws and system are not fit for purpose. This meeting was a demonstration of why this is so. Planning law is quite explicit in its bias towards development. The technical advice given to the councillors was that the pedestrian proposals were ‘acceptable’, and so they heeded this technical advice rather than the objections.

‘Acceptable’ is no longer good enough (if it ever was). We cannot continue to sanction schemes, such as this one, which leave people no choice but to cling to their car. The only schemes which should now be built are those of the highest environmental standards, and which make it easy and attractive for people to walk and cycle. I was disappointed that our elected representatives lacked the courage to stand up for principles which their own council says its supports. All it takes for a climate emergency to turn into a climate catastrophe is for everyone to wait for someone else to take the lead, and this is what they did, rather than taking it themselves.”

The Town Council have worked in partnership with a group of local residents to oppose the development. The group were extraordinarily disappointed by the decision and do not feel their concerns were appropriately considered.

At the Area East Committee of 9 October, local District Councillors had previously resolved that the application be refused for the following reasons…

  1. The proposal for up to 60 dwellings would take the level of growth for Bruton up to 253 dwellings over the plan period. This would represent a scale of growth which is 24.6% over the target for this Rural Centre as set out in Policy SS5 of the South Somerset Local Plan (2006-2028). As such, the development would be a significant increase over that envisaged in Policy SS5 and would be contrary to the intended growth strategy and settlement strategy and therefore contrary to Policies SD1, SS1 and SS5 of the South Somerset Local Plan (2006-2028).
  2. The development fails to provide inclusive, safe and convenient access on foot and cycle by reason of a narrow footway and contrived routing via Darkey Lane, meaning pedestrians will be forced to walk in the highway east of Darkey Lane creating conflict prejudicial to pedestrian and highway safety. Furthermore the inclusion of a new footway narrows the useable carriageway, especially on the junction of Brewham Rd and Frome Rd, which would result in the overrunning and over-sailing of the footway by HGV and agricultural vehicles, prejudicial to pedestrian and highway safety. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policy TA5 of the South Somerset Local Plan (2006-2028), the National Planning Policy Framework and Manual for Streets.
  3. The development, when taken with the existing use of Brewham Rd by existing residential, commercial and agricultural traffic would create a residual impact which is considered severe, contrary to para. 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
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