A village near Bridgwater will become home to a further 175 houses – so long as a new roundabout can be delivered on the busy A39.
Wainhomes Severn Valley Ltd submitted plans for the homes on the B3141 Woolavington Hill in Woolavington, near the allotments at the village’s southern edge.
The developer has offered to change the existing T-junction with the A39 Bath Road – near the Fairways Holiday Camp – into a roundabout after Somerset County Council raised concerns about road safety.
Sedgemoor District Council has now voted that these homes can go ahead, despite concerns about how well the village can cope with additional houses.
The council’s development committee discussed the plans in detail when it met virtually on Tuesday (September 15).
The application is formed of two parts – full permission for 100 homes (where the design, layout and other key details are agreed) and outline permission for 75 homes (where only the access from the B3141 is approved at this stage).
Highways England – which is responsible for maintaining the M5 – argued this development could exacerbate “existing capacity and performance constraints” at the A38 Dunball roundabout and Junction 23 of the motorway.
To address this, the developer has pledged more than £2,100 towards improvements to the Dunball roundabout.
A total of £800,000 has already been set aside for improvements to the Dunball roundabout from the Gravity employment site, which lies between Woolavington and the neighbouring village of Puriton.
Richard Young, who sits on Woolavington Parish Council, said creating the new roundabout would allow vehicles to access the A39 in “a more timely and safe manner” – adding it was “far more preferable” than other schemes for the same junction put forward by Gladman Developments.
Gladman intends to develop two other potential sites in Woolavington, with 125 homes planned to the north of Cossington Lane, and a further 95 homes earmarked for Woolavington Road.
Both applications are currently subject to ongoing appeals – something planning officer Adrian Noon described as “unfortunate”.
Councillor Kathy Pearce said she welcomed new affordable homes for the village, but questioned whether the Woolavington Hill site would be too far from essential services.
She said: “I worry that this will set a precedent for creeping urbanisation. Where do you draw the line?
“There’s nothing or little in here about promoting the use of public transport or cycleways, which I find disappointing.”
Councillor Alan Bradford welcomed the new roundabout but criticised a lack of “joined-up thinking” regarding the three vsites earmarked for housing, comparing the situation to the extensive recent housebuilding in his North Petherton ward.
He said: “All villages have to grow, but they have to grow in the right sort of way.
“I’m in an area where there doesn’t seem to be any joined-up thinking. Sometimes we have too many developers coming in, and that’s why you get the problems that have been associated with Willstock and Stockmoor.”
Councillor Bill Revans questioned whether the scheme would overwhelm the local primary school, located around a mile away on Higher Road.
He said: “Currently the school has a net capacity of 180 pupils. A quick Google search made me realise there’s currently 192 on roll.
“They say there’s an existing classroom that could be brought in to bring it up to 210 spaces – but this development would bring an extra 56 children.”
Despite these concerns, the committee ultimately voted to approve the plans by a margin of ten votes to two, with Councillor Revans being unable to vote due to technical issues.
The Planning Inspectorate is expected to make rulings on the two other Woolavington sites before the end of the year.