BRIDGWATER councillors have called for a rethink of plans for a major development of more than 500 homes at the eastern edge of their town, writes Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter.

Lance Alec Rainey House and Hannick Homes Developments Ltd. put forward joint plans in May 2021 for 560 new properties between Dunwear Lane and the M5 motorway.

Both Labour and Conservative councillors – several of whom are standing in the local elections on May 5 – have formally objected to the plans, citing concerns about traffic levels, housing density and local flooding.

A final decision on the plans is due to be made by Sedgemoor District Council later in the year.

The site lies to the south of the A372 Westonzoyland Road, and forms part of a wider allocation in the council’s Local Plan, which runs until 2032.

This wider allocation (dubbed ‘Bridgwater East’) is expected to deliver around 1,200 new homes, along with a primary school, community hall, retail units and a new spine road linking the A39 Bath Road with the A372 via a new roundabout.

Countryside Properties and LiveWest are expected to begin construction of the first 260 homes within this allocation on Bower Lane in the summer, with the first new houses being available to the public by the end of 2023.

Councillor Dave Loveridge, the Labour county councillor for Bridgwater North and Central, said the Dunwear Lane site (also known as Folletts Farm) was an example of “over-development” and claimed the developers would make drastic changes to the designs once outline permission had been secured.

He said: “This is too high density, it’s on a flood plain, there’s a lack of adequate infrastructure, too much traffic generation, environmental pollution and loss of wildlife.

“What’s more with this ‘outline planning permission’, they [the developers] never stick to it! They change it after it’s been approved.

“I am totally against this hurriedly contrived application which does not take into account the needs of the new and present residents.”

Bridgwater Mercury: Masterplan For 560 Homes On Dunwear Lane In Bridgwater. CREDIT: MHP Chartered Landscape Architects. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

District councillor Alexia Bartlett – whose Bridgwater Dunwear ward adjoins the site – added: “560 dwellings on 21 hectares is an unacceptably high density.

“There is no constructive provision for amenities and services, and the homes will lead to increased traffic towards Bridgwater and the M5 junction.”

Conservative councillor Diogo Rodriguez – the other ward member for Bridgwater Dunwear – has also objected to the proposals.

He said: “I am not convinced that the new roundabout will do enough to deter vehicles from using Somerville Way as a cut-through when there is intense traffic on Westonzoyland Road.

“I would like to see additional traffic calming measures as part of the application – such as speed humps, 20mph signage, clear road markings and a gateway enhancement scheme to deter new traffic from using the Silver Springs estate as a cut-through.”

The district council is expected to make a decision on the plans later in the year – a decision which is likely to come before its development committee due to the large number of homes involved.

Messrs. Loveridge and Rodriguez are standing for their respective parties in the local elections for the new unitary Somerset Council on May 5, with both standing in the Bridgwater East and Bawdrip division.