A VILLAGE near Crewkerne will see 50 homes built – despite local people claiming there is no local demand for more houses.

South Somerset District Council’s regulation committee met in Yeovil on Tuesday (November 20) to discuss plans for new homes on the southern side of Church Street in Merriott.

The plans, put forward by Merriott LVA LLP, were narrowly defeated by the council’s area west committee in October, after Councillor Andrew Turpin branded it “wholly unsustainable”.

But this decision has now been overturned after councillors agreed by a large margin to let the building go ahead.

Ian Hall, chairman of Merriott Parish Council, said building homes in this location would not meet the basic needs of the village.

He said: “This application does not actually fulfil any of the local employment requirements, renovation of old buildings, any improvement in local services or meeting demonstrated housing need.”

Within the council’s Local Plan, every settlement has a minimum number of dwellings which it is expected to provide over the plan’s lifespan.

Mr Hall said: “I make our current growth within the local plan period to be 16 per cent above the minimum already.

“This would take us to 20 to 21 per cent over, and if the nearby brownfield site were to go through we’d be up to around 25 per cent over the minimum.

“As a rural settlement, this really is enough. There are only five people on the council’s HomeFinder list looking for homes in Merriott at the moment.

“This is the only location in Merriott as you walk around which reminds you that you are actually in a rural settlement.”

Paul Fisher, who has lived in the village for 35 years, said further homes in the village would put pressure on local amenities.

He said: “People want adequate education and health facilities, and good transportation facilities to employment.

“Merriott has one first school which is in deficit of capacity. You go to the local authority, and they say ‘no problem’. But with other developments, you’re going to have more children coming into our village.

“We have very poor community transport, one regional bus service which takes people to Taunton – which only runs once a day on college days.

“This is a vibrant local community and we need to be maintained, rather than stifled just to meet local housing supply targets.”

Councillor Ric Pallister praised the community’s attitude, but argued this situation had arisen as a result of other sites in the surrounding area not coming forward.

He said: “This is not a community or parish council which is opposed to development. The village has always taken a very responsible approach, so a push-back is not anti-development.

“I can’t think how many years we’ve been trying to get the Scott’s Nursery brownfield site forward – but it’s not on the table.

“If we could bring the key site forward in Crewkerne, it would answer so many of our problems. What’s happening with the development industry is that, when it can’t bring forward those sites, it’s moving out into our rural settlements. It’s a fact of life.

“Government policy is ‘if you’re not getting them built, grant more planning applications’. We’re expected to roll over and play dead, and if we don’t have strong evidence to refuse it, an appeal would be a walk in the park for the developer.”

Councillor Nick Weeks despaired at the loss of green land, stating: “I can probably grow a couple of hundred tonnes of wheat on this land. We treat land as though you can’t do anything but build houses on it.”

Councillor Sylvia Seal countered: “That land sits right in the middle of existing development. It calls for houses to be built on it.”

The committee voted to approve the plans by a margin of ten votes to three.

A reserved matters application – which will describe in detail the layout and design of the houses – will be submitted in the coming months.