Opposition to planning application no: 34/21/00008 submitted by Summerfield Homes.

Opposition to planning application no: 34/21/00008 submitted by Summerfield Homes.

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Jason Mackay started this petition to Councillor Duncan McGinty (Leader - Sedgemoor District Council) and

PETITION:

We the undersigned fully oppose planning application no: 34/21/00008, submitted by Summerfield Homes to Sedgemoor District Council on Thursday 4th November 2021.  The planning application seeks approval for 26 dwellings on a greenfield site, outside of the village development boundary, on land to the east and adjoining Back Lane, Middlezoy.  

We respectfully request that Sedgemoor District Council deny permission based on all the information set out below.

Background and reasons for signing the petition:

On Thursday 4th November 2021 Summerfield Developments formally submitted a full planning application for a housing development on a field on Back Lane, which runs parallel with Nethermoor Lane from the corner of Back Lane by the car park of The George Inn down to the corner by the entrance to the allotments.  Planning is for 26 homes made up of 10 affordable and 16 full market value homes made up of 1-bedroom flats, and 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom homes.
 
This petition was originally launched in 2018 when Back Lane was previously chosen for a similar development by another developer, but on this occassion planning was never submitted.  In the main this was due to strong campaigning by village residents as well as signatures on this very petition.   Given the site is now subject to a formal planning application the original petition details listed below remain perfectly valid, but now in 2021 with more additional reasons to oppose the development as follows:

1. Middllezoy is situated in a Tier 3 zone, which means development must adhere to Sedgemoors' 2011-2032 Local Plan and more specifically these points extracted from the document: 

5.171 - The key driver for such a scheme would be a demonstrable need for        affordable housing for local people identified in an up-to-date assessment of local housing needs.
5.172 It is generally expected that such schemes will be community-led.   Promoters will be encouraged to carry out meaningful and robust engagement and consultation with Parish Councils and other local stakeholders in advance of a detailed scheme being submitted.
&
Policy T3a - Tier 3 Settlements – Housing.  Outside but well related to settlement boundaries, mixed tenure affordable and market housing proposals on sites specifically released for that purpose will be supported only where it is demonstrated that it meets all of the following criteria:
It fulfils an identified local housing need for affordable housing as evidenced by an up-to-date assessment of local housing needs agreed with the District Council.

In the context of the Summerfield planning application, there has been NO engagement or consultation with our Parish Council, indeed the first they knew of it was when Sedgemoor notified them that it was Summerfield’s intention to submit a planning application in October’21.
 
The planning application does NOT provide the requirements set out in the Housing Needs Assessment carried out in February’21, and only provides 10 out of the 26 affordable / shared ownership homes required.

2. In 2019 Middlezoy Parish Council began a consultation to identify a new site in which to accommodate affordable homes.  In mid 2020 they asked Sedgemoor to carry out a new Housing Needs Assessment (previously carried out in 2017) so as they could understand how many homes would be required.  As detailed above, this was carried out in Feb’21, with the results published in May’21 highlighting that "26 respondents were assessed as being in housing need of an affordable home, all of whom were considered to have a strong local connection with the parish of Middlezoy".

Middlezoy Parish Council, in conjunction with SHAL Housing is finalising its own affordable / shared ownership scheme on an alternative site, which does not have access and safety concerns, and with architects appointed.  The site is large enough to deliver all 26 homes as identified in the Sedgemoor District Council 2021 Housing Needs Assessment. It is also large enough to accommodate the village shop and post office, which are at risk of having to close should their current home be sold. They are vital to our rural village community, and must be protected at all cost - the Summerfield planning application does NOT incorporate any community based features and is not serving the best interests of village residents.

3. The village is at significant risk of a further development on another green field site, situated outside of the village development boundary, due to the Summerfield plans NOT providing the required number of affordable homes detailed in the Housing Needs Assessment. It is extremely likely this further scheme would also incorporate market value homes too, which the village does not need, and on land that needs to be protected.

Note: To be clear, we the undersigned fully support the notion of building the affordable homes in our village provided they are located on the alternative site being provided by our Parish Council.

Background:

The original scheme proposed in 2018 included 10 - 12 affordable homes and 16 - 18 full market value homes for which a number of sites were identified, these were whittled down based on various criteria to two, Back Lane and Knowlesyard Road.  A public consultation took place where residents of the village could see the proposed sites and complete a questionnaire to suggest which they thought was most suitable.  There were a total of 50 respondents, which is a poor number from which to draw any conclusions.  As a result Back Lane was selected, and mainly because of its location within the village, not its suitability for development and for access.

Following the decision to go with Back Lane, residents of the Village campaigned that it was NOT the right site for such a development including this petition being started - and for the reasons listed below.  These actions prompted Middlezoy Parish Council to notify Sedgemoor that they were formally rejecting Back Lane as a site for any future development, and that they did not want to pursue any development for affordable homes in the village that also included full market value homes.

Back Lane is a totally unsuitable site.  It's location and associated access is extremely poor, and will undoubtedly significantly increase the risk of personal injury to residents and visitors alike should the development go ahead.

Middlezoy is a small village with one main through fare called Main Road.  Back Lane is accessed from 3 junctions off this road.  None of these junctions are suitable for increased traffic frequency that would inevitably occur should this development go ahead as proposed.  Given its adjacencies to the back lane site the junction that would most likely service the site would be from the staggered crossroads next to the George Inn (the other junctions at either end of Back Lane are not real options for vehicles transiting to the site for the reasons detailed in the next paragraph).  This crossroads next to the George Inn has stone walls on ALL sides with extremely limited visibility for vehicles and pedestrians alike.  It is an area of the village that is already busy in terms of pedestrian movements (of all ages, young and old), with the school, shop / post office, and pub all in close proximity.  Many vehicles drive through this area too fast and many do not consider the surroundings.  As such there is already a significant risk of personal injury, which has sadly been realised on multiple occasions in recent years, and needs to be fully considered by all parties.  Furthermore these parties should be under no illusion that should the back lane site go ahead the risk of personal injury will be significantly exacerbated with the inevitable increased vehicular movements; something they should be considering above all other priorities.  Somerset Highways were satisfied that Back Lane has good access, but contradicts itself with other developments in the village where they raised concerns for sites with significantly better visibility and access... this needs urgent and thorough review.

Back Lane itself is a single track carriage way with hedges on both sides, high verges, limited places for vehicles to pass and limited visibility.  Back Lane already has many homes located on it as well as the Village Hall and Playing Field.  It is regularly used by pedestrians / dog walkers, cyclists, people riding their horses as well as by vehicles.  It cannot cope with additional traffic movements and will inevitably result in increased risk of personal injury.

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