THE SIX-year battle to stop more than 200 homes being built in Shudrick Valley has come to an end after the appeal was dismissed.
The application appeal went before an eight-day inquiry in January and the final decision was revealed last week.
Construction company C G Fry and Son and the Dillington Estate submitted the application for the huge housing development in Shudrick Valley, Ilminster, and after it was rejected a number of times by South Somerset District Council, appealed the decision.
A spokesman for Save Shudrick Valley said: “SSVG is delighted over the dismissal of this appeal - a decision which has been a long time coming.
“It has not been just waiting for the result of the January inquiry, this has been a six year battle first throughout the Local Plan process and then the planning application.
“But democracy has won in the end. This development was not needed in the Local Plan, was opposed by people who wanted what was best for the town, and shows that a residents’ group can be successful with a lot of work and knowing that the main issues are stacked up in your favour.
“Having conviction in knowing what is right and the facts to back it up has been the key.”
The last application was refused by SSDC on May 19, 2016, and was followed by the appeal being lodged on July 11. The appeal was dismissed on April 10.
David Lohfink, land and planning director for C G Fry and Sons, said: “I am disappointed with the appeal decision given the sustainable location of the site and the district council’s persistent failure to deliver much needed housing across the district. We are taking counsel’s advice on the inspector’s decision and will form a view on our next steps shortly.”
The spokesman for SSVG added: “The inspector has agreed with the two remaining reasons for refusal put forward by South Somerset District Council. But he has also supported our landscape case for refusal, putting forward a very strong response in dismissing the appeal.
“Anyone can see that a stroll into open countryside on a permissive footpath alongside a stream with medieval field patterns, beautiful landscape valley slopes, small woodlands, a pond and the wildlife which accompanies such a scene should be protected.
“Consider the alternative: the developer and land owner’s case was that building 220 homes and a big relief road right through the middle of what has just been described above would actually improve the landscape.
“The inspector’s view was that the proposals failed to conserve and enhance the landscape character of the valley and the effects were unacceptable. We were disappointed that our cases for refusal on flooding and highways grounds were not supported by the inspector.
“If this development had gone ahead, the fact remains in our opinion that flooding would still have existed certainly down Shudrick Lane and in Ditton Street, and the town would have been left with immense problems over the use of the relief road by HGVs especially in Shudrick Lane, Ditton Street, Orchard Vale and Canal Way.
“We do have a very strong and positive dismissal of this application on heritage and housing policy grounds and also on landscape.
“The inspector also had very strong comments about the appellants’ case put forward against SSDC’s housing policy and over the town’s direction of growth, where he stated ‘the adverse effects arising from conflict with these policies would be significant and demonstrable.’
“We are very happy with the decision but also pleased that such a long episode which right from the start was obviously not necessary, is over.
“The decision will now allow the town to grow in the way that was anticipated in the Local Plan, and the decision can be incorporated in the town’s Neighbourhood Plan deliberations which are now under way for the proper and correct way forward for the town’s development.
“Two Local Plan inspectors and this inspector have independently looked at this site and concluded development in the Shudrick Valley is not the way forward.”