TWO HUNDRED new homes will be built in Chard after councillors described amended plans as “probably the best scheme that we can hope for”.

Kier Living South West applied to build the homes between the A358 Tatworth Road and the B3162 Forton Road at the southern end of the town.

South Somerset District Council deferred a decision on the plans last month, telling the developer to “come up with something better”.

Now amended plans have been approved after councillors felt the majority of their concerns had been addressed.

The site forms part of the Chard Eastern Development Area (CEDA), which is designed to deliver thousands of new homes, employment land and school places over the next decade.

Emma Rodgers, speaking on behalf of the developer, told the council’s area west committee on Wednesday evening (February 20): “Following the last committee meeting, there were a number of concerns raised. We had a very positive meeting where these were addressed.”

Planning officer Andrew Gunn laid out the changes which had been made in his written report, including new bus shelters on both sides of Tatworth Road, a new bus shelter and crossing points on Forton Road, and improved pavements on both roads leading from the development.

The developer confirmed construction work would begin at the Forton Road end of the site, due to the need for complex drainage work in that area.

However, it promised construction traffic would be directed to enter from Tatworth Road “at an early stage”.

These changes to the plans were widely welcomed by Councillor Andrew Turpin, who said: “I’d like to applaud the way in which Andrew [Gunn] and the developers have addressed these concerns.

“It’s very refreshing, and I’m thrilled to be bits about what is proposed.”

Councillor Dave Bulmer added: “It is probably the best scheme that we can hope for on this site. I’m pleased that the applicants have engaged with us and dealt with the issues of concern.

“I welcome the lower density adjacent to the Holbear end of the development, since it’s more in keeping with what’s down in that part of the town.

“The tidying up of Forton Road has got to be welcomed, since that’s been an issue for a number of years.”

Former council leader Ric Pallister queried whether the site would generate enough money in developer contributions to ensure a new primary school could be delivered in the town.

Somerset County Council promised Chard a new primary school as part of a commitment made in January 2018 to build 24 new or replacement schools in 2023.

Mr Pallister said: “I want to ensure that the formula the county council operates to is applicable to this site – that we don’t end up going over the other side of the road and someone says ‘there’s not enough money for the school’.

“I don’t want to be in a situation where we can’t put the school in on the next phase, on the other side of Forton Road, because they haven’t gathered the money from this development.”

Mr Gunn said the county council’s school funding formula was being reviewed, but added: “The amount of money [for education] which was agreed at the outline planning stage hasn’t been queried by the applicant.”

Councillors voted to approve the plans after just over half an hour’s debate.