Council forcing 270 homes on Midsomer Norton is "affront to local democracy"

  Posted: 24.11.21 at 17:02 by By Local Democracy Reporter Stephen Sumner

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Midsomer Norton should get a payout from 270 homes planned on its southern boundary, councillors have claimed.

Exeter-based developer Waddeton Park Ltd has applied to build the new properties near The White Post Inn – just inside Mendip Council’s jurisdiction on a site allocated for housing in a Local Plan signed off by a planning inspector.

Members of the town council say it and Bath and North East Somerset Council should be the ones to collect council tax from the new residents and the developer should pay a substantial sum to address the strain on the infrastructure if the scheme is approved.

One commentator claimed the town council was trying to “annex” the planned new neighbourhood.

Councillor Chris Watt, who represents Midsomer Norton Redfield on B&NES Council, said there had been similar issues for years, adding: “I feel nothing short of rage that B&NES Council has made clear that it would not build very large numbers of houses around Midsomer Norton, as it would only exacerbate some of the highest levels of out commuting in the West Country.

“To have it forced on us through the back door by Mendip District Council and the Planning Inspectorate is an affront to local democracy.”

He said the land should be part of Bath and North East Somerset but that could only be achieved through a boundary review and it is not clear when the next one will be.

Fellow ward councillor Paul Myers added: “While I would strongly support action to redress what to many seems like a cynically opportunistic move by Mendip to dump their housing allocation on Midsomer Norton, changing boundaries is not an easy legal process.

“The sooner we start the formal process the sooner Midsomer Norton and Bath and North East Somerset can receive the council tax and precept for the White Post development – but it will probably be years before the town sees a penny.

“I am already exploring our options with B&NES Council and the town council.”

In its formal objection, B&NES Council said the development would worsen the imbalance between jobs and homes and result in cumulative impacts on key infrastructure.

Parish councillors in Westfield have also objected to the plans due to the impact on the village’s infrastructure.

Representing the developer, a spokesman for Tetlow King Planning said the development would complement B&NES Council schemes at Beecham Place and the new three-form entry primary school in Silver Street.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Midsomer Norton Town Council planning committee chair Gordon Mackay said: “I would very much welcome the new residents of the proposed development to Midsomer Norton and that the boundary is changed to include this new development.

“The fact that developers want to build new houses here and people wish to move to Midsomer Norton is a ringing endorsement of our town.

“I sincerely hope that B&NES Council and Mendip District Council recognise our growing population and make the long-overdue investments that our community needs, particularly regarding public transport and road-infrastructure in general.”

Mendip District Council is expected to make a decision on the outline plans before Christmas.

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