West of England Developments and Summerfield Developments (SW) Ltd have jointly submitted a planning application for 94 houses and light industrial development at Sandys Moor, off Taunton Road in Wiveliscombe.
Planning permission has already been given for the following on the wider site:
- A new Enterprise Centre to be built near the roundabout by Somerset County Council.
- EPS Saws and another business user are moving into the old abattoir building.
- Brendon Powerwashers are expanding into new business units being built in front of the sewage works.
With the above relocations, business units currently used by EPS Saws in Ford Road and by Brendon Powerwashers in Station Road will be available for rent to other new users.
The Sandys Moor site, including the area proposed for the West of England and Summerfield development, is already allocated in Taunton Deane Borough Council’s planning policies for business or light industrial use, but not for residential development.
For their mixed-use application, West of England and Summerfield argue that allowing part of the site to be used for higher-value residential development “will fund the provision of the infrastructure required to facilitate employment development” on the rest of the site.
They also claim that planning policies* require that if “there is no reasonable prospect of land coming forward for the uses for which it is allocated, alternative suitable and viable uses should be found”. This may prove to be a key issue for the application, which will depend on whether TDBC considers other business use applications will be submitted or whether the developers provide sufficient evidence to show that this will not happen.
The developers’ application (see their Masterplan) shows 44% of their proposed development area would be light industrial and 56% housing, with 94 houses (28 being 2-bedroom, 42 3-bedroom and 24 4-bedroom).
If they gain approval, the developers say that once their new access road has been completed, they will actively market the business site and offer a choice of business units to rent, bespoke business units to buy, or serviced plots sold for businesses to build on themselves.
They have also said they are committed to delivering 25% of the homes as affordable, with the mix and tenure to be agreed with TDBC. They expect these homes to have on-going conditions for tenants and owners, which include a local connection to the town or to adjoining parishes and maximum incomes. They say they will work with a Housing Association, who will own most if not all of the affordable homes.
If planning permission is approved and the developers build the new housing, they will be required to pay a substantial Community Infrastructure Levy to the local authorities, who will also receive New Homes Bonus payments from government. The levy should be used to improve infrastructure, including to increase capacity at local schools.
For further details of the application, click on following links:
Results of a quick online survey showed a majority opposed proposals for new housing to be included in the development of the Sandys Moor site. Responses were anonymous and the results were shared with the Town Council.
My views on the development application are shown in this post.
Wildlife habitat on the site
Before the development application was submitted, a biological survey was undertaken of part of the Sandys Moor site. This found the grassland has had time to develop a rich biodiversity with many plant and insect species, including a sighting of a Common Blue Butterfly. It has been suggested this part of the site should be preserved and managed as a mini nature reserve.
New social housing for Wiveliscombe
Following a local housing needs survey, Wiveliscombe Town Council are currently working with Magna Housing to secure a suitable site to build new social housing to rent.
Cllr Dave Mansell – 29/7/18 (survey results added 16/8/18)
UPDATE: A Section 106 Agreement was signed by the Councils and developers on 17 December 2020. From a quick look through, this appears to just confirm the conditions for the planning approval given in March 2019. It can be viewed on the Council’s planning portal (search for application number: 49/18/0045).
* The relevant planning policy is on page 36 of the new National Planning Policy Framework, published in July 2018, as follows:
120. Planning policies and decisions need to reflect changes in the demand for land. They should be informed by regular reviews of both the land allocated for development in plans, and of land availability. Where the local planning authority considers there to be no reasonable prospect of an application coming forward for the use allocated in a plan:
a) they should, as part of plan updates, reallocate the land for a more deliverable use that can help to address identified needs (or, if appropriate, deallocate a site which is undeveloped); and
b) in the interim, prior to updating the plan, applications for alternative uses on the land should be supported, where the proposed use would contribute to meeting an unmet need for development in the area.