RESIDENTS of Ilminster have slammed a letter calling for the picturesque Shudrick Valley to be subject to hundreds of new homes.

Members of the Save Shudrick Valley Group have called on people to reject the site as an area of future development when they vote, expected later this year.

The Ilminster Neighbourhood Plan group (INP) is creating designs for how the townsfolk would like future development to take place.

This includes preferred areas of growth, and the draft neighbourhood plan - approved by the town council last year - showed no development in Shudrick Valley.

However, despite not being open to public consultation yet, a letter has called for a u-turn on the INP draft.

The maligned seven-page document was written by planning consultants Turley.

This company acts as the agents for CG Fry, who previously attempted to build 330 houses at Shudrick Valley.

Despite acknowledging the draft is ‘not open for a public consultation at this stage’, the letter from Turley concludes: “It is our view that Shudrick Lane should be identified as an appropriate site for housing within the emerging Neighbourhood Plan for 220 new homes.

“We trust the information provided in this representation is helpful and will be duly considered when progressing forward with the next stage of the plan.”

The Save Shudrick Valley Group has hit out, describing the letter as ‘a blatant move... to get the Shudrick Valley included as a site for housing development’.

A statement from SSVG added: “The Neighbourhood Plan is supposed to be the work of residents and decided by residents, not out of town developers and consultants.

“We would urge the INP group to be strong and face down this outside attempt to change their plan. It would mean the end of the proper democratic process for making decisions on the plan.

“Residents will eventually have the opportunity to decide what they want in the plan when a referendum is held on its proposals, and if they don’t want their town to grow this way they should vote against any such proposals for Shudrick Valley.”

In March 2015, a government inspector rejected Shudrick Valley as the direction of growth for housing development, and South Somerset District Council agreed to Canal Way instead.

Then landowners Dillington Estate and developer CG Fry put in a planning application for 330 homes, later reduced to 220 homes. This was also turned down by SSDC, and defended on appeal.