PLANS to redevelop a former police station in Wells have been delayed due to concerns over the lack of car parking.

Wells Police Station operated on the A39 Glastonbury Road until late-2021, when the police moved to their new facility inside the fire station on Burcott Road.

Churchill Retirement Ltd. put forward plans in August 2023 to convert the buildings into 47 extra care apartments, which came before the council’s planning committee east in Shepton Mallet on March 5.

But a decision has been pushed back by councillors for up to two months to allow for further negotiations over the amount of car parking on site and contributions for new affordable homes elsewhere in the city.

The site lies near numerous existing health and care facilities, including the Crandon Springs and Fletcher House care homes, the Wells Health Centre, the Wells City Pharmacy and the St. Andrew’s mental health ward.

Access will be from the existing entrance onto the A39, with 23 car parking places being provided on site. Of the new properties 31 will be one-bedroom flats and 16 will be two-bedroom flats, all of which will be sold at full market price to the over-60s.

Both the Street and Wells sites have been provisionally allocated for development within the revised Mendip Local Plan Part II, which is currently out for public consultation.

The developer has faced numerous viability issues with the site, resulting from the ongoing phosphates crisis and high inflation within the construction industry, which has limited how much affordable housing could be delivered within the site itself.

The company originally offered to contribute £434,000 towards other affordable housing schemes in the city (whether council- or developer-driven) – but this has now been revised down to £100,000, on top of around £18,000 for new or expanded health facilities.

Councillor Edric Hobbs (who represents the neighbouring Mendip Hills division questioned whether 23 parking spaces would be sufficient given the number of elderly people in Somerset who still drive.

He said: “If we have all these elderly people in their eighties, all with their Honda Jazzes, there’s not many parking spaces.”

Councillor Susannah Hart (Glastonbury) added: “If you’re an 80-year-old widow who’s fallen over, you won’t be walking into town from there. You will either need someone to collect you, a taxi or a car.”

The site lies within the Somerset Levels and Moors catchment area, meaning that additional mitigation has to be provided by the developer to prevent any net increase in phosphates within the catchment area.

To achieve this, the developer has agreed to purchase phosphate credits generated by fallowing agricultural land at Yew Tree Farm near Wraxall – the same site which was fallowed to unlock 280 new homes on the B3151 Somerton Road in Street.

Councillor Shane Collins (Frome East) said it was “appalling” that so little money was being provided for affordable housing, stating: “This doesn’t give the people of Wells nearly enough.

The committee voted to defer a decision until May.

Comment on the revised Mendip Local Plan Part II here: by April 12.