ILMINSTER is at a crossroads and people will have one chance to get the town’s future right, it was claimed this week.

Campaigner Rob Drayton, from the Save Shudrick Valley group, said he is deeply concerned developments in Ilminster could see the town’s population jump by 25%.

The Local Plan seems likely to allocate 310 homes at Canal Way and his fears escalated after developer CG Fry submitted plans to build 330 homes east of Shudrick Lane to South Somerset District Council.

He said: “The most recent household figure for Ilminster is 2,759 – if both of these planning proposals go through, the town will end up with over 28% extra households – that could mean close to 2,000 extra people.

“The Local Plan inquiry was told that the town’s first school will have insufficient capacity by 2016-17 – and that is just from the housing growth in the plan’s 310 homes. Adding another 330 homes would just be irresponsible and other services will also find it difficult to cope.”

Mr Drayton said if all the housing went ahead, people would be living in Ilminster but working elsewhere, making it a dormitory town.

Yeovil Express:

A map of CG Fry's proposed 330-home development.

He added: “It still looks as though Canal Way will be the chosen direction of growth in the Local Plan but even if the inspector did choose Shudrick Valley, there is no doubt a planning application will still go in for the 310 homes in Canal Way. There are ways to fight it and that is what residents should now aim to do if they do not want to see this sudden surge in housing and population.”

Tony Walker, who has lived in the town nine years, said he would be devastated if the housing developments were approved and the ‘vitality and vibrancy’ of the town centre was lost.

Mayor of Ilminster Emma Jane Taylor said the town council always looked at the impact any development had on the town as a whole.

She added: “I cannot comment on any application that has yet to come before us, in this case the Shrudrick Lane application, as that would be seen as prejudging an application.”

The closing date for residents to object to the plans is July 4 and Ilminster is awaiting the decision on its direction of growth in the impending Local Plan, expected by September 5.

A spokesman for CG Fry said it did not feel it was appropriate to comment at this stage.