HUNDREDS of new homes and a primary school will be built on the western edge of Bridgwater, despite fears it will cause “chaos” on one of the town’s main roads.

Cavanna Homes South West Ltd and Martin Grant Homes put forward plans for a new development of 675 homes on the north side of the A39 Quantock Road, opposite the cemetery.

A total of £4M will also be provided by the developer towards delivering a new primary school, which will provide spaces for up to 420 pupils.

Sedgemoor District Council’s development committee convened to debate the plans on Tuesday (October 13), with several ward members raising concerns about traffic levels and flooding.

But the plans were ultimately approved by a clear majority despite these reservations – and with further homes already earmarked for the local area.

The main access to the development will be a new signal-controlled junction on Quantock Road, with slip roads running both in and out of the new homes.

The new junction has been designed so that it could be turned into a crossroads if plans for 354 homes on the other side of the A39 (put forward by Persimmon Homes Severn Valley) are approved at a later date.

Peter Major from Wembdon Parish Council said the development did not do enough to encourage sustainable transport, calling for “direct and continuous” cycle links between the site and the Homberg Way.

He said: “The proposed bus service won’t be available for several years until the estate roads are completed.

“In the wake of covid-19, walking and cycling have become more important. There is a need to improve this route, and that money should come from the Section 106 agreement.

“This is an opportunity to ensure this development truly meets the needs of pedestrians and cyclists, particularly the younger generation.”

Under the proposals, a bus gate will be installed to connect the site with Inwood Road to the east, and pedestrian and cycling access will be provided at the site’s northern edge to connect it with Wembdon Hill.

Planning officer Dawn de Vries responded: “We have been actively working on the bus gate for two-and-a-half years now.

“The bus route, and ensuring that gets delivered, does ultimately fall on the county council‘s shoulders, but we have that secured in the legal agreements.

“The intention is not to create a new bus route, but to divert an existing route through the new estate.”

Several councillors raised concerns about the current traffic levels on the A39, arguing the new development would exacerbate the situation.

Councillor Liz Perry said: “The main roundabout on the Quantock Road is absolutely gridlocked at peak times with traffic, all the way down to the Northern Distributor Road – and not just with Hinkley Point traffic.”

Councillor Brian Bolt said: “That road is usually solid traffic, almost back to the new garage, on a daily basis. Basically, anybody going in and out of that estate is going to be trapped.”

“The road isn’t suitable for taking on additional traffic. It is chaos down there.”

Of the 675 homes that will eventually be built, only 48 (just over seven per cent) will be affordable, due to long-standing concerns about the viability of the site.

However, the legal agreement with the developer includes a “review claw-back” – meaning the council can request that a higher proportion of the homes be affordable if the viability of the overall site improves over time.

Councillor Kathy Pearce said: “We have to accept the principle of development here, but it’s all about the numbers.

“I’m concerned about over-development – and the lack of affordable housing. If we set standards, I don’t know why it’s okay to break those.

“This is a site with a southerly aspect. I don’t think I’ve seen a site with so much opportunity for re-orientating houses for solar gain – but I’ve seen nothing about sustainability.

“If we are losing this agricultural land, we need to be really careful about what we’re putting on there to protect the future.”

Councillor Li Gibson added: “There is absolutely no social housing on this site. I think the traffic is going to be a complete nightmare – it already is in this area.

“It’s going to create thousands of cars going in and out of this site, which will create more pollution for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s also going to create more flooding.

“I don’t get how the council thinks we’re going to achieve zero carbon without looking at this – the Local Plan is out of date and needs revising.”

After more than two hours’ debate, the committee voted to approve the plans by a margin of ten votes to five.

The council is expected to make a decision on the Persimmon plans after October 17.