AN “immoral” plan to demolish two homes so that developers can build 54 more on the field behind could finally be approved on Wednesday.

Numbers 26 and 28 Orchard Vale in Midsomer Norton are social rent homes owned by local housing association Curo. They are a pair of semi-detached three-bedroom houses, with large gardens backing onto a field on the edge of the town.

Now Curo wants to build 54 homes on that field and demolish 26 and 28 Orchard Vale to build a new road to access the “Underhill Farm” development. The plans have been in limbo for months due to a “boundary anomaly.”

Midsomer Norton lies in Bath and North East Somerset, but the field behind Orchard Vale lies across the council boundary with Somerset Council. This means that new residents would pay council tax to Somerset Council despite using services in Midsomer Norton.

Except for two social homes to replace 26 and 28 Orchard Vale, the affordable housing built on the field would go to people on Somerset Council’s housing waiting list — not those waiting for houses in Midsomer Norton on Bath and North East Somerset Council’s waiting list. Out of the 54 homes, 18 will be affordable: two for Bath and North East Somerset and 16 for Somerset.

The plans were initially refused planning permission by Somerset Council in November 2023, amid concerns that schoolchildren would face an 11-mile school run. Bath and North East Somerset Council also rejected planning permission to demolish the two homes a few weeks later.

But Curo then lodged an appeal and brought the plans back before the council with new assurances that a nearby GP would be able to take people and the housing association would fund transport to schools further afield if pupils were not able to get places in Midsomer Norton.

Curo also said the homes would be more sustainable with air source heat pumps and solar panels.

Now Somerset Council has said the development can go ahead. But Bath and North East Somerset Council still have to grant planning permission for demolition of 26 and 28 Orchard Vale before Curo can start developing the field behind.

A total of 142 objections to the plans have been lodged with Bath and North East Somerset Council urging them to reject the plans, while just one comment was left in support from the Transition Bath group. Objecting, Joe Mears, said: “It is immoral to demolish the homes of current residents to provide access to new homes in the next authority.”

Sue Ross said: “Our town is under siege, threatened on several sides by multiple applications to build on the Somerset/B&NES border — extra homes that will sap our already stretched amenities while their council tax goes elsewhere.

“Ultimate access to this development will be out onto Northmead Road, a road that struggles to cope with current volumes. GP and dental facilities are swamped. These houses will destroy yet more of our precious green habitat, an area known for its wildlife.

“The application has been rejected twice so far. Stop wasting council time and resources on this one in an attempt to build cheaply on virgin green land and let the residents of Orchard Vale get on with their lives in peace.”

The plans are also opposed by Midsomer Norton North’s local councillors Michael Auton (Liberal Democrat) and Shaun Hughes (Independent) and Midsomer Norton Town Council. But planning officers at Bath and North East Somerset Council are recommending the plans be approved.

The plans will come before Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee tomorrow (Wednesday, June 5). The committee meets in the Banqueting Room at the Guildhall in Bath at 11am, but this application will be decided in the second half of the meeting which starts at 2pm.