A development of 270 homes described as the “meat in the sandwich” has been unanimously backed by district councillors in Somerset.
Waddeton Park Ltd. put forward plans in August 2021 for a major development on the A367 Green Park Road at the southern edge of Midsomer Norton, not far from The White Post Inn.
The site was identified within Mendip District Council’s Local Plan Part II for a minimum of 250 new houses – one of three sites intended to provide a natural extension for the town.
The council’s planning board voted unanimously to approve the outline proposals when it met in Shepton Mallet on Wednesday evening (July 20), with councillors describing the proposals as “very promising”.
While Midsomer Norton lies within the boundaries of Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES), the Waddeton site is entirely within the Mendip district, sandwiched between the A367 and the B3355 Silver Street.
BANES’ planning committee met on June 27 to consider an access link between the Waddeton Park site and the existing homes to the north, with a decision being deferred until August to allow discussions over the delivery of a toucan crossing to Norton Hill Primary School.
Of the 250 homes planned for the Waddeton Park site, 81 will be affordable – meeting Mendip’s target of 30 per cent of new homes being affordable within any major new housing development.
Two further sites near Midsomer Norton are earmarked within the Local Plan Part II (which was ratified in December 2021) – land to the east of the A367 Fosseway South (where Persimmon Homes Wessex has applied to build 190 homes) and land between Underhill Lane and Orchard Vale (where Curo has been consulting on a development of 58 homes).
Waddeton Park director Simon Steele-Perkins said there had been “very few objections from the local community” and said the development had been designed to encourage green travel between the homes and the town centre.
He said: “Because of our long-term involvement in this land and land to the north in BANES, we’ve been able to design a scheme which focusses on permeability and connectivity, linking the development with green spaces and its surroundings.
“We can also provide the site to the south, recently granted on appeal, with an opportunity for a pedestrian and cycle link.”
Gleeson Strategic Land Ltd. won an appeal against the council to build 75 homes on Beauchamps Drive following a public inquiry in February – with the Planning Inspectorate ordering the council to play some of the developer’s legal costs due to the former’s “unreasonable behaviour”.
Councillor Damon Hooton, who chairs the planning board, said the Waddeton Park plans formed “the meat in the sandwich” between the existing homes and the Gleeson site.
He said: “This is the meat in the sandwich, and you don’t have a sandwich without meat. Well, I do, but I’m vegetarian.”
Councillor Edric Hobbs raised concerns about the impact the new homes would have on the White Post roundabout, which connects the A367 to the B3139 Wells Road.
He said: “I’m aware of the weight of traffic on the White Post roundabout and the surrounding roads, particularly in relation to Norton Down Church.
“Could the developer give me a few quid for some signs to help on that junction, in relation to people coming out of the church down the road?
“If they could bung a few grand our way at county highways, it would be appreciated by the people who are there, to put it bluntly.”
Mr Hobbs – who was recently elected to represent the Mendip Hills division on Somerset County Council – was reprimanded by Mr Hobbs for his use of the word ‘bung’.
Councillor Helen Kay – a frequent critic of new housing developments in the Frome area – was highly complimentary of the plans, praising the “fantastic green buffer” around the site.
She added: “It looks like, working with BANES you’ve looked at the imbalance between jobs and homes – we’ve got that same issue in Frome – and there’s going to be some help there.
“We’ve even got some bungalows, and there are so many developers who don’t build bungalows.
“We’ve even got water butts in there – this is the first time I’ve actually seen a development where water butts have been put in straight away and we haven’t had to ask for those afterwards.
“I commend this – I think it’s actually a very good development.”
Councillor Francis Hayden added: “What we see here is very promising.”
The board voted unanimously to approve the outline plans after around 20 minutes of debate.
A reserved matters application, which deals with the fine details surrounding the design and layout of the new homes, is expected to come forward before the end of the year.