A CONTROVERSIAL plan for 65 homes in Ilminster has won approval.
Members of South Somerset District Council’s area west committee gave the goahead for Persimmon Homes’ revised proposals for Canal Way despite numerous concerns, including worries about safety of children at a proposed new play area.
The initial application, submitted in July last year, was turned down because of a lack of onsite play provision.
Planning officers advised councillors that since the latest application from November addressed the previous reason for refusal, turning it down would not stand up at an appeal.
But fears over the play area’s remoteness and proximity to deep water, the potential for increased anti-social behaviour and flooding were strongly voiced.
Persimmon was also criticised over the fact that it had marketing boards on the land months before the development was approved.
Representing Ilminster Town Council during the public’s chance to speak, Cllr Emma Jane Taylor said: “The play area is far away from most of the houses in the estate and the existing adjoining estate, Adams Meadow.
“It’s near deep water and the cycle path – this is not a secure location.
“Ilminster residents are concerned about growing anti-social behaviour in the town and the loss of employment land.
“We have great concerns about the development and Persimmon has pursued a very aggressive approach to the site, putting up marketing material before getting planning permission.”
The safety issue of the nearby deep water was also raised by Ilminster’s Cllr Carol Goodall and Chard’s Cllr Dave Bulmer, who said: “The whole play area needs to be reconsidered – that’s the most important thing. I think they need to go back to the drawing board.
“I don’t think the applicant has taken on board the flooding concerns and I think that also needs to be looked at again.”
Cllr Linda Vijeh added: “Persimmon remind me of a recalcitrant teenager, constantly pushing the boundaries.
“Throughout the officer’s report there are lots of minor areas where they don’t quite meet the criteria and when you add them all together it smacks to me of a planning application where they are trying to do what they want, so I can’t support it.”
Simon Collier, representing the agent WYG Planning, said: “The reason for the refusal of the original application was the lack of a play area, even though it had previously been agreed that an off-site play area was ok.
"The officers consider this is the only realistic location for the play site and the recommendation for approval reflects that the full reason for refusal last time has been addressed.”
Area west chair Cllr Angie Singleton said: “The developer is pushing the boundaries as far as they can, but we have no robust reason to refuse it.”
Speaking after the decision, Cllr Emma Jane Taylor, said: “We are disappointed but we understand that South Somerset District Council has to go with the planning rules.
“We hope Persimmon develop the site in accordance with the laws and in conjunction with the town and district councils.”