CARS could be banned on a stretch of a major road between Taunton and Bridgwater, risking a ‘detrimental impact’ on surrounding businesses.

Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) has released its first Garden Town Design Guide, focusing on Monkton Heathfield.

But the plans could make it harder for motorists to access Taunton from Bridgwater and North Petherton

After it was discovered the area would not be meeting its 4,500 new homes target, the council has put together a ‘masterplan’, detailing how it believes any future developments should come together.

The plans for the updated part of the development are set to go before the SWT executive committee on Tuesday, January 28.

Following a consultation on the Draft Masterplan and Development Guide, if no major changes are presented, the plans will be adopted without a full council vote.

However, any future planning applications to actually develop the site will need to go through the usual process.

The new map outlines plans to give up land earmarked for employment uses and to instead allow houses to be built on land south of Manor Farm, near Creech St Michael.

Bridgwater Mercury:

COMING SOON? The council's 'masterplan' map

Click here to view a larger version.  
Click here to read the full agenda items. 

A spokesperson for the council said: “The guides set out developments across the district.

"The land south of Manor Farm is allocated in the design plan. This guide provides more detailed plans and parameters for developments. 

“This is the first area-specific guide.

“More work has been done around the masterplan, a reflection of how things are moving on. It aims to reconcile some of the challenges of developing employment land. Housing targets will be reviewed in the local plan.”

This development neighbours existing work, which has taken place in phase one of the Monkton Heathfield Development.

Phase two would see the construction of the eastern relief road, as plans have been suggested to turn a section of the main A38 route towards Bridgwater into a bus-only highway.

Motorists would have to take a detour around the development using the relief road to join onto the A38 again.

Part of the western relief road, between two roundabouts joining Hardys Close to Bridgwater Road, would become a pedestrian route.

‘Bus and ride’ areas have also been planned, which would not be a park and ride service, but instead similar to a car park where bus services would stop.

The council spokesperson added: “The intention is to deliver improved bus facilities.

“Unlike the park and ride, bus and ride would make use of existing services.

“The intention in terms of highways is to make sure that we can encourage people to make more sustainable choices by taking the bus, but people can still move around by private car.

“The transport elements have been informed by technical work that has already been done, but it will need to be signed off by the transport authority. It is county and district policy.”

But turning the A38 into a bus-only route could have a ‘detrimental’ impact on nearby businesses, including Monkton Elm Garden Centre, which has been running for nearly 40 years.

The business employs around 120 staff, who live in all directions of the surrounding area, as well as their customers ranging from far and wide, including from the Bridgwater direction.

Mike Lind, managing director of the centre, said: “At this stage we feel it would be detrimental to our business, but we want to work with the councils and developers to really find a way through these challenges.”

Mr Lind explained fears over delivery lorries having to drive through the estates, and a loss of customers buying big-ticket items which would not be suitable for bus transport.

“It’s counterproductive,” he added. “We are a green business so understand their intentions of being more environmental, we sell thousands of trees and plants and we help to keep Taunton green.

“We are a significant employer in the area and we work with other local businesses, so it will have a knock-on effect.

“There’s a lot more detail which needs to be thought-through, but we welcome the opportunity to engage with the council.”