Small Somerset village could be inundated with new homes as three appeals lodged

By Daniel Mumby - Local Democracy Reporter

14th May 2024 | Local News

Lochailort Investments Ltd has launched a number of appeals (image by  Norton St Philip Parish Council)
Lochailort Investments Ltd has launched a number of appeals (image by Norton St Philip Parish Council)

A small Somerset village could be inundated with dozens of new homes after three planning appeals were launched at the same time.

Lochailort Investments Ltd. has been seeking to deliver dozens of new homes in the village of Norton St. Philip, between Bath and Frome, after completing the first phase of the Fortescue Fields development.

The developer put forward three sets of amended plans for two sites in the village in April 2023 – two sets for the second phase of Fortescue Fields, and one for a further eight homes to the north.

The company has now filed three appeals against Somerset Council after it failed to make a decision on all three proposals – with the Planning Inspectorate confirming the matter would be setted by a public inquiry.

The site for phase two of Fortescue Fields was originally allocated for development within the Mendip Local Plan Part II, which was approved by Mendip District Council in December 2021.

However, this site and four others in the former Mendip district were removed from the plan following a successful judicial review by Norton St. Philip Parish Council in December 2022.

Plans For 27 Homes On The A366 Bell Hill In Norton St. Philip (image by PAD Design)

Somerset Council has put together a provisional list of sites which could deliver around 750 new homes to make up for this shortfall – several of which already have planning permission in place.

The three plans for homes in Norton St. Philip are all revised proposals of developments which were either previously refused by council officers or withdrawn before a decision was made – namely:

  • 30 homes within phase two of Fortescue Fields, to the north of Mackley Lane
  • 27 homes within the same site
  • Eight homes north of Fortescue Street

All three appeals were lodged on the grounds of non-determination (meaning the council did not make a decision within a reasonable amount of time) – which could lead to the council paying the developer's legal costs if it is found to have wasted time or otherwise acted unreasonably.

A spokesman said: "The house designs are of the highest quality and reflect the varied historic character of the village.

"All residential units will be in compliance with the nationally described space standards, representing a high quality of internal design for future residents.

"Car parking and amenity space is provided in accordance with Somerset Council policy.

"The proposals have been designed to achieve very low carbon emissions through the adoption of good fabric performance, use of waste water heat recovery and the use of air source heat pumps."

The council has provided three grounds on which it would have refused planning permission for these sites:

  1. The developments "deliver poor connectivity with the existing village", lacking public open space and negatively impacting on the local conservation area
  2. The developer has provided "insufficient information" on how any impact on the nearby Mells Valley special area of conservation will be mitigated
  3. There is no legal mechanism in place for securing affordable housing and contributions towards local schools

The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that the three plans will be settled in a joint public inquiry, but has not provided a firm date for when this will take place.

Those wishing to make a formal statement as part of the inquiry should click here and quote reference 3338939 by June 7.


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