Gladman – predatory developer targets Wivey

Gladman Developments claim to be ‘strategic land promoters’. Others have called them a ‘predatory developer’ who seek planning permission for new housing through legal loopholes to avoid local planning controls. They are assisted by a Government policy that gives a presumption in favour of development.

Currently, Gladman have applications for the following four sites in Taunton Deane, including one in Wivey:

  • 205 dwellings and 60 apartments – Bagley Road, Rockwell Green (submitted 3/1/2017)
  • 95 houses – North Street, Wiveliscombe (2/1/2018 – followed refused application for 130 houses on same site submitted 14/3/2017)
  • 200 houses – Langaller Lane, Creech St Michael (18/10/2017)
  • 180 houses – Cheddon Road, Taunton (19/4/2018)

The Wivey site is outside of the settlement boundary for the town and goes against Taunton Deane Borough Council’s Local Plan. If allowed, there is concern the development would add to traffic congestion in the town centre, strain local schools and welfare services, and damage the landscape and town’s character.

Gladman’s planning applications for Rockwell Green, Creech St Michael and Wiveliscombe have all been refused by TDBC, but Gladman have appealed and a planning inquiry, led by an independent inspector, will be held for each application. TDBC have not yet made a decision on the Cheddon Road application.

The first inquiry into the Rockwell Green application restarted on 17 July 2018 and, shockingly, was concluded in three days after TDBC’s case against the development collapsed (see Around Wellington and County Gazette press reports).

The second inquiry into the Wiveliscombe application started on 31 July 2018 at the Albemarle Centre in Taunton, but was adjourned, as both sides requested time to update their cases in light of the new National Planning Policy Framework published on 24 July.

The outcome of the Rockwell Green inquiry has raised concerns for Wiveliscombe, especially as there are some similarities in the reasons given by TDBC for refusing both applications.

Cllr Eddie Gaines and I raised this with TDBC and assurances have been given that the Council’s case to defend the Wiveliscombe appeal will be much stronger.

Rockwell Green was only defended on policy grounds, which the Council conceded, and evidence on TDBC’s 5-year housing land supply was not given, so this was not tested.

For Wiveliscombe, TDBC’s reasons for refusal include harm to the landscape and townscape, including destroying the open break to Langley Marsh, as well as being contrary to policy.

TDBC’s team for the Wiveliscombe inquiry involves an external planning expert, a landscape specialist and another specialist to give evidence to defend TDBC’s 5-year housing land supply, which it is anticipated will be one of the key issues.

Somerset County Council had raised highways concerns about the capacity of North Street and The Square and the impact on junctions off these roads, but they have withdrawn their objections and agreed a Statement of Common Ground with Gladman. This provides for minor improvements to North Street, but mistakenly says there is still an hourly bus service (it’s been less frequent since February) and does not address traffic issues in The Square.

Cllr Dave Mansell – updated 1 August 2018

UPDATE (7/11/2018): Gladman have withdrawn their appeal and the inquiry into their housing scheme will not proceed, with no further action to be taken. For more see: home page post.

Further information on Gladman and land promoters

CPRE Briefing (March 2018) – How ‘land promoters’ exploit legal loopholes at the expense of communities and the countryside

East Anglian Daily Times (February 2018) – ‘Predatory’ developer targets Suffolk’s ‘Lovejoy’ village for 150 new homes

Daily Telegraph (August 2017) – The modern-day barons: inside the murky underbelly of land promotion

Gladman Land – Who Are Gladman?