PLANS for nearly 100 new homes at the northern end of Cheddar that were scaled back to protect local wildlife have been approved.

Waddeton Park Ltd, which is based in Clyst St Mary in Devon, has applied for outline planning permission to build 96 homes on land at Round Oak Farm on Axbridge Road.

Its plans show more than half the site given over to green space.

They were deliberated at a meeting of Sedgemoor District Council’s development committee, held in Bridgwater on Tuesday morning (July 31).

The original master plan for the site had intended for 110 homes to be built there, but this had been scaled back to 96 to protect local wildlife.

Stuart Houlet, the council’s service manager for development management, said that this development would be “low density”, with less than 50 per cent of the land being used for housing.

The remainder would be given over to green spaces for community use, which would help to ensure that wildlife – including several species of bats – could be protected.

Simon Steele-Perkins, speaking on behalf of the developer, said: “We hope that this scheme in front of you will reflect the spirit and content of the Cheddar Neighbourhood Plan and and the Sedgemoor Local Plan, and will deliver a high-quality development.”

Access to the site will be onto the A371 Upper Hill Road, but will have to be judged carefully to ensure that the second phase of development at Holwell Lane – on the other side of the road – can come forward.

Mr Houlet said new pedestrian crossings and traffic calming measures would be installed on Upper New Road to ensure that the new residents could be safe.

The site lies a short distance south of the ‘magic roundabout’, which connects the busy A371 to Shipham Road, heading into the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Councillor Dawn Hill – who was not present at the meeting – requested that £250,000 be secured from the developer to ensure that improvements to the roundabout could be made.Mr Houlet responded that some flexibility would be needed to ensure that the council would not have to return any money to the developer at a later date.

He said: “The magic roundabout scheme is pretty undefined at the moment. Somerset County Council’s latest estimate says it could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to design a scheme, so some flexibility will be needed.

“We know what’s wrong with the roundabout, we don’t necessarily know how to put it right.”

He added that Cheddar Parish Council had indicated that smaller-scale improvements to Upper New Road would also be welcomed.

Councillor Paul Herbert welcomed the development, but agreed that improvements to the road network were urgently needed.

He said: “The roads built by the Romans are not big enough for the traffic we put on them today.”

Councillor Bob Filmer, who chairs the committee, said: “The green space will act as a softening of the urban area as you’re heading out of Cheddar.

“Those hedges are imperative in keeping the view of this, and I wouldn’t want to see them lost for any reason.”

To create the access road from the A371, the hedges will be moved backwards from the road but will be maintained.

Councillor Alan Bradford described the plans as “a credit to Cheddar”, adding: “It’s amazing to see what can be done when people work together.”

The committee voted unanimously to approve the outline plans. A reserved matters application, laying out the fine details of the homes, will be brought forward by Waddeton Park Ltd in the coming months.