Mendip District Council’s Planning Board has approved plans by David Wilson Homes, a subsidiary of Barratt Homes, to build 82 houses at Green Pits Lane in Nunney.
David Wilson Homes submitted an application (reference 2020/0158/FUL) to build around 82 properties at Green Pits Lane. This includes 20 social rent and 5 shared ownership properties.
Nunney residents had a chance to comment on the application, and many did so. Concerns focused on flood risk, traffic, noise and parking.
A previous application by Barratt Homes for up to 100 homes was rejected at the very highest level in 2015, after a public inquiry. Key problems at the time included extra traffic through the village and drainage.
Nunney Parish Council has a right to be consulted on local planning applications, although Mendip District Council takes the decisions.
The Parish Council can decide to support, object or refer an application back to Mendip District Council. On 18 May the Parish Council held a special planning meeting in which it recommended that the plans should be rejected.
But in its online meeting on 22 July, Mendip District Council’s Planning Board approved the planning application.
There are conditions attached, including contributions to local schools (£272,577.50), traffic calming measures in Nunney (£20,000 to implement already approved plans for 20 miles per hour speed limits throughout the village) and healthcare facilities in the region (£14,097).
Additional sound insulating has been promised to protect existing housing in the area. Facilities for bats, swifts, bees, sparrows and hedgehogs are also penciled into the plans, as are wildlife corridors.
The Planning Board meets every month to consider and determine planning applications, the adoption of planning/development briefs and other development control and planning enforcement matters.
The next step is now for David Wilson Homes and Mendip to agree on an S106 legal agreement, in which all the conditions and financial contributions are made legally binding.
The site at Green Pits Lane has recently been included as a proposed allocation for residential development in Mendip District Council’s emerging Local Plan Part II (Policy reference NN1).
All district councils are required to prepare a local plan but, by law, they must be scrutinised by a Government Inspector before they can come into force.
The Local Plan Party II does not reject new housing development in Nunney – without specifying a specific site -, but calculates the number of new properties required by 2029 at 55 – the construction of one of which has already been approved elsewhere in Nunney.
The layout of the new plans includes access on the southwest side of the Green Pits Lane location, to the left of the lorry car park when approached from Nunney Catch roundabout.
But Inspector Schofield concluded in 2015 that Barratt Homes’ proposal would have contradicted local housing policy by being outside the development boundaries of Nunney under Mendip’s development plan.
The Inspector also noted that the sheer size of the development was “significantly over and above” the level of development recommended for Nunney in Mendip’s Local Plan. At 82 proposed homes, the curent proposal still is.
Mr Schofield made clear in this appeal decision that although 55 houses could be considered a minimum for Nunney, it did not automatically follow that just because a figure is minimum it must be exceeded – particularly when Mendip was able to demonstrate that it has sufficient building sites available elsewhere in the next 5 years.
The Inspector also questioned whether Nunney had sufficient access to public transport. “Thus, it cannot be considered that there is either a frequent bus service to the main centres or that the services are convenient for the majority of those who may seek to use them for work.”
Since he wrote his report in 2015, only a limited weekday service between Wells and Frome still serves our village.
Inspector Schofield also pointed out that many shops and other services were only available in Frome. Without access to public transport or a car, walking or cycling along the busy A361 would not be a viable option for residents of the new development.
“The alternative route proposed, along Frome Road, is along winding, hilly, unlit rural roads, which are narrow in places. Consequently, although it may be quieter, in my judgement it is not likely to prove a significantly more appealing option,” he concluded.
In total 61 members of the public wrote in to comment on the original outline planning application in 2014, all of whom were against it.
How to respond to planning applications
You can review planning applications on Mendip District Council’s website at http://publicaccess.mendip.gov.uk/online-applications.
Alternatively, you can use the self-service computers at Mendip District Council offices at Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet or at your local library.
Planning applications are published on Mendip District Council’s planning website, where members of the public can add comments during published consultation periods.
Free and independent professional advice on town and planning issues to people and groups who cannot afford consultancy fees is available from Planning Aid:
Planning Aid England
41-42 Botolph Lane
London EC3R 8DL