Wembdon Parish Council Response to SDC Proposed Submission Local Plan
With strong support from Wembdon residents, Wembdon Parish Council strongly object to the aspects of the Local Plan which directly impact on the area within the Parish boundary. This can be seen as reference B3 (Cokerhurst Farm) on inset map 2 in the Policies Maps document of the Local Plan. This letter outlines the reasons for this objection
The Local Plan aims to promote ‘safe and sustainable transport options and to manage congestion’.
The SDC Sustainability Appraisal Draft Report stresses that site B3 will cause ‘Major negative effects’.
First, development of this site will drastically increase traffic. As a result, air pollution will increase to dangerous levels and the tranquillity of this rural area will be seriously compromised (paragraph 6.25).
Second, the Development of this site will have a significantly negative effect on congestion. The Appraisal acknowledges that the A39 to the West of Bridgwater (and running adjacent to site B3) is already a very busy road with especially heavy holiday traffic using the road to access the North Devon coast (Paragraph 6.28).
The Government has recently given the go ahead for Hinkley C and stressed its national priority. As a consequence of this decision, we need to look at the negative implications if this development (B3) goes ahead.
The A39 is the only access road to Hinkley Point and is already graded a ‘RED’ route in terms of congestion. Any further congestion, which any development of this site would cause, would have a negative impact on the HP construction programme. This programme is scheduled to last a minimum 10 yrs and simply must not coincide with the proposed development of this site.
Also, as the only route to HP, in the event of ANY traffic emergency, the whole area would be at risk of grid lock.
A detailed evaluation of ALL settlements in Sedgemoor has been carried out by SDC in preparation for this Proposed Local Plan. In that preparation Wembdon has been placed in Tier 3 along with 15 other similar sized villages. These settlements, if this Local Plan is adopted, have been allocated 650 houses in total. How is it that Cokerhurst Farm, in Wembdon, has been allocated 700 houses? Wembdon has very much an identity separate from Bridgwater with a real sense of a village identity. It is a village with character with a real sense of community involvement.
It is remarkable that, for the purpose of this Proposed Local Plan, Wembdon is suddenly viewed not as a Tier 3 settlement, BUT as part of ‘the wider urban development of Bridgwater’. This is grossly unfair as we feel that, on completion, the Parish of Wembdon will be left to cope with 700 new houses that will increase the size of the village by half as much again.
This development is contrary to a full Parish Plan published in 2008, A Vision for Wembdon. A written survey to every household showed that over 90% supported the policies appropriate for a Tier 3 settlement. This document was accepted as a key document in the previous Inspectorate process.
The SDC Sustainability Appraisal identifies the ‘North Bridgwater – Chilton Trinity’ site as a potential development for 2,000 homes (a significant number of which would be within the Wembdon Parish boundary) (paragraph 4.30).
NO major negative impacts have been identified within this appraisal (Table I.1.1.5). It would also provide the basis for a Northern By-pass route from the M5 motorway junction 23 to the A39 at Cannington. This would alleviate traffic congestion through Bridgwater and Wembdon AND provide a necessary SECOND route to Hinkley Point.
If consideration for the Cokerhurst (B3) was delayed until Hinkley Point C is completed, ie about 10 years, then there would be time for the ‘North Bridgwater – Chilton Trinity’ Site – to be brought forward.
Because of the issues raised above, Wembdon Parish Council must object to this Draft of the Local Plan. We urge that the site is removed from the Plan. In any event, the possible development of this site should be pushed back until Hinkley Point C is operational.
Should the site be considered for development at any point and a Planning Application in outline is brought forward, then there would be numerous other considerations to be addressed at that time.
Wembdon Parish Council
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