A MAJOR housing development in Bridgwater will contain more than twice as many affordable homes as was originally proposed, writes Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter.

Countryside Properties put forward detailed plans in January to deliver 260 homes on Bower Lane, on the northern side of the A372 Westonzoyland Road and a short distance from the M5 motorway.

The plans – the third iteration of proposals for the ‘Strawberry Grange’ site – were originally only going to include 31 affordable homes (the equivalent of only 12 per cent).

But this has now been significantly boosted thanks to a new partnership with housing association LiveWest – with hopes that construction could begin as early as July if planning permission is granted.

The new homes will be accessed via a new roundabout on the A372, which will also end up serving a planned development of 560 homes on Dunwear Lane immediately to the south.

A new spine road will begin at this roundabout and eventually connect the new homes to the A39 Bath Road, with Somerset County Council releasing different parcels of the land as further development proposals come forward.

With the new agreement between Countryside and LiveWest, backed by funding from Homes England, the Bower Lane site will deliver 78 affordable homes – meeting Sedgemoor District Council’s target of 30 per cent affordable homes for any new development of ten houses or more.

While the district council has not yet granted permission for the Countryside scheme, LiveWest representatives have claimed the process is “moving forwards” and approval is expected to happen by early May.

This would enable work to begin on-site in June or July, with the first homes being available by late-2023.

James McLoughlin, partnership manager at Countryside, said: “The south west is a new region for Countryside and we’re delighted to have partnered with LiveWest to deliver these affordable homes on our site.

Bridgwater Mercury: Planned Site Of 260 Homes On Bower Lane In Bridgwater. CREDIT: LiveWest. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

“This is our first project with LiveWest and we hope to build on this relationship going forward, partnering to deliver affordable homes for local people.

“This site has been vacant for some time so it will be great to see it transformed into much-needed homes for the town.

“We’re currently seeking our reserved matters planning consent and hope to be on-site constructing these homes this summer.

“Delivering sustainable homes is at the heart of what Countryside do and the carbon footprint of the homes we produce in our factories is 25 per cent less than that of traditional brick and block construction.”

Countyside has already invested £30M in factories producing both open-panel and closed-panel timber frame homes, as part of a drive towards embracing modern methods of construction (MMC).

Homes England and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) have both identified MMC as a priority, since they allow homes to be delivered speedily with less waste and a lower carbon footprint.

Each of the new homes being delivered will incorporate air source heat pumps which extract renewable heat from the outside air, resulting in lower energy bills for the new owners.

Sharron Taylor, new business manager for LiveWest, said: “We are delighted to partner with Countryside to develop much-needed homes for local people.

“The mixture of affordable rent and shared ownership will ensure these homes are genuinely affordable at a time where the disparity between average earnings and average house prices is growing.

“We are committed to building vibrant communities and helping to make sure people can remain local.

“We are excited to be not only supporting local housing needs but also providing sustainable homes for the future.

“The air source heat pumps will have a positive impact on the energy performance of the homes and help customers save money on their fuel bills.”