REVISED plans to build 323 homes on the edge of Chard and bring around 750 jobs to the area have been slammed by residents.
Persimmon Homes South West recently submitted amendments for the controversial planning application between Forton Road and Tatworth Road, which sees the number of proposed homes stay the same and lack of infrastructure remains an issue.
They have also revealed plans to start work on the site as early as September this year, and that the proposed build would bring 775 jobs to the area.
Residents have hit out at these claims, describing the amendments as ‘unsympathetic’, the lack of new infrastructure as ‘horrific’, and the jobs promise as a ‘pipe dream’.
James Finn, who lives in Holbear, said: “If 750 proposed new jobs are being created during this construction, where are these builders, technicians and other staff being currently employed and do they hit the unemployment list once the developments are complete?
“Will they be commuting from further afield once again adding more traffic on the local roads? Will they all be using the local shops and cafes or will they bring sandwiches and flasks? These throw-away statements of job creation are very eye-grabbing but unworkable once given more thought.
“The impact that these developments will have on the existing infrastructure is horrific if not rigorously thought through.”
Barry Bruton, another Chard resident, said: “The revised plans have merely juggled the number of dwellings into a different pattern and ignored the concerns reported by the Holbear residents.
“The distribution of affordable housing has remained totally unsympathetic to the established properties and clearly ignored previous comments. There has been no attempt to reduce the total number of dwellings nor to locate the intended larger detached properties anywhere near the current Holbear homes.
“From a wider perspective, the envisaged massive impact on local traffic flow and safety remains a major concern as does the ability of the Chard Town infrastructure to cope with the influx of families. It is our view this planning application remains to be totally ill-conceived, unrealistic and unsympathetic and we strongly object.”
Tracy Berry added: “What has actually changed apart from moving the road slightly and building a few dividing walls? From what I can see, nothing. To address the fears and anger, the inbound and outbound is the same so therefore the danger is still there.
“As for the job comments from Persimmons, that is just a pipe dream. And to be honest if they believe the project will create that many jobs, it just opens the next set of questions. Where will we direct all the cars that come with the 700 people with these so call jobs?
“We all know it is coming, we all agree that, and we all want Chard to progress, but it has to be in a safe and sensible way.”
The plans were first submitted to South Somerset District Council in April 2016. The development will consist of a mix of two and three-storey buildings of detached, semi-detached, and terraced houses, as well as 33 apartments.
Simon Perks, regional managing director of Persimmon Homes South West, said: “Following public consultation and discussions with the planning department, the applications for Chard and Ilminster are being amended to reflect those discussions.
“Most people living in and around Chard will be aware of our plans for the town. We are still in negotiation with the local authority and we are hoping to push forward with this scheme later this year.
“Another major benefit will be the new jobs that the construction will create. These jobs will be in a wide variety of roles, including bricklayers, carpenters, roofers, site managers and sales advisers.
“Construction is a crucial part of the overall economy. It keeps things moving. We are pleased to be leading the way in this area and have plans for further expansion in the years to come.”
An SSDC spokesman said: “Officers have recently re-consulted on revised plans and are currently seeking to take the report to Area West Committee in July.
“This is however subject to having received all responses and dealing with any outstanding matters. If approved, a legal agreement will need to be agreed and signed, therefore the decision won’t be issued until this has been signed. This could be around September time or possibly later.”
The planning application site is partly within Chard’s Jocelyn Ward and partly in the neighbouring Tatworth and Forton parish.
Andrew Turpin, district councillor for Tatworth and Forton, said: “I have a number of concerns. The volume of traffic that would be generated from the site, in both direction going along the B3162 Forton Road. That is a serious concern of mine.
“I am also concerned about the impact it might have on some of the roads adjacent to it.
“I am also concerned about the people of Forton and the impact it is going to have on them. It is a delightful village and this could prove to be a little overwhelming for them. It is going to have a tremendous impact.
“My other concern is the infrastructure in Chard. School numbers are at saturation point, and so too are the doctors as far as I can tell. That is a serious concern.
“I would encourage all people, both in Chard and Forton, who are looking to be affected by this to come to our emergency meeting. I would really welcome the views of local residents in Chard and Forton.”
The emergency meeting is being held on May 23, from 7pm at Tatworth Village Hall.
For the outcome of the Chard Town Council planning committee, click here.