SOMERSET Council has won a legal battle to prevent nearly 50 new homes being built on two adjoining sites in a small Somerset village.

Brewer Lillington and Land Allocation Ltd. put forward separate outline plans for the homes on two adjoining sites on Fore Street in Tatworth, near Chard.

South Somerset District Council refused both proposals in January 2022, prompting the developers to both launch appeals to the Planning Inspectorate.

The inspector has now upheld this decision on both sites, meaning the homes will not go ahead – but it will have to foot some of the bill for the legal proceedings.

Fore Street lies at the northern end at Tatworth, connecting the A358 Axminster Road from Chard to the B3167 Perry Street, which serves as a vital back road to Crewkerne.

The sites comprise an agricultural lane between Manor Farm Close and Loveridge Way, being separated by hedgerows and an existing bungalow called Sunnyside.

Planning inspector Oliver Marigold visited the sites on September 12 and published his final report on the Planning Inspectorate’s official website.

Chard & Ilminster News: The plans for the homes.The plans for the homes. (Image: Clendon)

He said the development would put the River Axe catchment area at risk due to the increased in phosphates generated by the new homes – and that the proposed mitigation did not go far enough.

He said: “The additional population and the resultant wastewater from the proposals would result in an increase in levels of phosphates entering the River Axe catchment system.

“This may well result in adverse effects on the integrity of the river and its species, such as oxygen depletion, thereby worsening an already unfavourable situation.”

Somerset Council – which replaced the district council in April – voted in June to refuse plans for a further 95 homes on Perry Street, in part due to its negative impact on the River Axe catchment area.

Mr Marigold added that building on these sites would lead to reduce biodiversity within the village and the surrounding countryside.

He said: “A range of ecological surveys of the appeal sites have been carried out, including for bats, reptiles and dormice. These surveys have found, amongst other things, that the sites provide a habitat for slow worms and grass snakes, and that dormouse and bat roosts are within hedgerows.

“I cannot be satisfied that the proposals would not harm biodiversity within the sites.”

Mr Marigold further stated that building in this part of Tatworth would put a strain on the village’s already limited amenities, resulting in more car journeys as people travelled to Chard, Crewkerne or Axminster to access shops, schools or medical facilities.

He said: “Proposals within rural settlements must be commensurate with their scale and have access to identified key services.

“The concern of the council and others is that the amount of growth proposed would be excessive and unsustainable, adding to pressure on local services and facilities, including the cumulative effects of other development locally.

“Together with existing commitments and recent approvals, the appeal proposals would increase the number of dwellings in the parish by around 12 per cent over the Local Plan period [which ends in 2028].

“Major applications are being considered by the council as part of the Chard Strategic Growth Area, and that a decision is pending on a planning application for 236 dwellings within Tatworth parish, albeit on the edge of Chard.

“I see little reason to doubt that there would be insufficient facilities for day-to-day activities to accommodate the proposals, or that the proposals would harmfully affect the availability of services and facilities locally.

“Taking all the benefits of the proposals together into consideration, when
balanced against with the harms that would arise from the proposals, I
conclude that the harms would outweigh the benefits in each appeal.”

A separate appeal, arguing for the council to pay the developer’s legal costs due to “unreasonable behaviour”, was partially upheld by the inspector.