CAMPAIGNERS are warning a planning free-for-all could be the result of disagreements over the proposed ‘direction of growth’ of Ilminster.

Six town councillors voted in favour of development along Shudrick Valley at a meeting held as part of a consultation on South Somerset District Council’s Local Plan, while three voted against and one abstained; four others were not present.

The town council’s view will be passed on to the district council, which is proposing to modify the Local Plan to make the preferred ‘direction of growth’ the Canal Way area after a planning Inspector raised concerns in July about the suitability of its former preference, Shudrick Valley, as the location for around 30 new homes.

Almost 100 people turned up to the meeting to voice their views, with many people fighting to stop future development in Shudrick Valley and others presenting a petition with more than 300 signatures against building in Canal Way.

The latter group expressed concern over the effect on Herne Hill should development take place in the Canal Way area.

Rob Drayton, of the Save Shudrick Valley Group, said: “The decision by the town council was no more than we expected. But what did surprise us was the fact there were only six votes in favour.

“The petition from campaigners in Canal Way states that the town council is ‘strongly behind the Shudrick Lane development’ – six out of 14 councillors is not even 50% and is not a great mandate, certainly not strong support.

“It was again made clear by the district council that if the option for direction of growth is changed yet again with a fourth attempt at getting it through, and the plan is then deemed unsound by the inspector then we could face a planning free-for-all and that is not in the town’s best interests.”

The consultation is now over and will be discussed by the district council’s Planning Management Board, executive and full council, before the final proposed modifications are due to be submitted to the inspector in March.