BATTLE lines are being drawn ahead of a public enquiry into plans to build 350 homes to the north of Chard this month.
Developer Mactaggart and Mickel wants to build a floodlit, fullsized football pitch, unlit full-sized training and mini- pitches, multiuse clubhouse, spectatorfacilities and parking alongside the homes on land east of Mount Hindrance Farm.
It also wants to provide a hub for neighbourhood and community facilities, public open space, landscaping, drainage and associated vehicle and pedestrian access.
Chard Town Council recommended that South Somerset District Council should refuse the application, which it did in September last year, but the developer has appealed and an inspector will make a decision following the inquiry.
Alan Quantrell, of Kings Ride, Chard, and his wife Elizabeth launched the Mount Hindrance Action Group to combat the housing plans.
They said: “This development is not sustainable because people cannot walk into town and back again and it is not very practical. Everyone round here is against it – we are all singing from the same hymn sheet – the only people who have a different view are the developers.
It is hoped that we will have a really good turn-out at the meeting by all those who wish to show their objection to these proposals.”
Mr Quantrell and helpers are distributing flyers to households in Chard, Cuttifords Door, Wadeford and Combe St Nicholas to inform more people know about the development.
Chard Town Council planning committee chairman Cllr Tony Prior said: “The bottom line is development in Chard needs to be in the south-east of the town, not the north, and this application is contrary to that.
“It is important for the future of Chard that development is in that area – if local planning means anything this should be turned down.”
In its appeal against the decision, Mactaggart and Mickel said its plans respond positively to the strategic growth of Chard by bringing jobs, more sports provision and highways infrastructure improvements.
It said the scheme would not affect the emerging Local Plan and would provide a balanced form of development at Mount Hindrance with plans to move Chard Town FC to better facilities on the proposed site.
Mike Hone, of Chard Town FC, said the Mount Hindrance proposal would create a new home for the town’s football club and much-deserved sports provision for the community.
He added: “The lack of sports facilities in Chard is nothing short of scandalous.
The local planning process has failed to deliver its citizens with even a basic entitlement to sports provision – by the council’s own statistics, Chard is already short of at least ten sports pitches. The key site proposal in the Local Plan does little to address this shortfall, let alone provide additional facilities for the new housing.”
District councillor Dave Bulmer said: “I have a lot of sympathy for the football club because we want to try and get a solution for them and for sports provision in Chard. I hope the application is not approved because it would undermine the Local Plan but we will continue to work hard to find a solution for the football club."
The inquiry, led by an inspector, will run from Tuesday, May 20, at the Guildhall and is expected to last four days. The inspector will make a decision on the plans at a later date.