Housing plan for award-winning Wells is back as appeal lodged

Aerial view of proposed site of 50 homes on the A371 Portway in Wells
-Credit: (Image: Gleeson Land Ltd.)


Wells residents could still face another 50 homes being built on the edge of their city if a key decision is reversed. Gleeson Land Ltd. failed in December 2020 to secure permission from Mendip District Council to build 68 new homes between the A371 Haybridge Hill and the B3139 Elm Close on the western edge of Wells - a decision which was subsequently upheld by the Planning Inspectorate.

The Fleet-based developer put forward proposals for 50 homes on the site, which lies between the existing properties and the Wells Touring Park, in mid-2023, only for the recently-formed Somerset Council to refuse permission in early-September 2023. The developer has now lodged an appeal against this most recent decision, with the Planning Inspectorate confirming that a public inquiry will take place in early-August to settle the matter.

The site (known as New House Farm) lies opposite the Priory Fields development which is being delivered jointly by Bovis Homes and Taylor Wimpey. Under the proposals, the existing farm buildings will be demolished to make room for an attenuation pond and an improved access onto the A371.

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The existing public right of way running through the site will be enhanced, providing a safe walking and cycling link between the A371 and B3139 past the existing homes. The planned properties will range from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses, with 20 of the 50 homes being affordable - in excess of the council's 30 per cent target for major developments in the former Mendip area.

A large amount of green open space, including a children's play area, will be retained at the northern edge of the site to provide a buffer with the touring park. A spokesman for the applicant stated in August 2023: "The delivery of this site for residential development presents the opportunity to make an efficient use of the site in a manner that respects the amenities of neighbouring properties and its location on the edge of the settlement.

"The site lies adjacent to the existing built up area with existing development to the north, south and east. It is well-located on a main route into the town centre, to existing facilities and services, and will deliver a logical and sustainable extension to the built up area of Wells."

Somerset Council refused planning permission through the delegated powers of its planning officers, rather than a public decision by its planning committee east (which handles major applications within the former Mendip area). Mickey Green, the council's executive director for climate and place, identified six reasons for the refusal:

  1. The site lies within open countryside and would "result in substantial harm to the distinctiveness and identity of Wells, Haybridge and Elm Close", with the new homes causing the three settlements to coalesce

  2. The applicant has failed to demonstrate there will not be a "detrimental impact on highway safety", and the development has "poor sustainability credentials" in terms of access to local services

  3. The developer has provided "insufficient information" on how any increase in phosphates will be mitigated to prevent damage to the Somerset Levels and Moors

  4. The development could result in "adverse effects" on the North Somerset and Mendip bats special area of conservation

  5. The amount of surface water from the new homes draining into the River Axe "would exceed the amount deemed acceptable" by the Somerset Internal Drainage Board Consortium

  6. The site's proximity to the Wells sewage treatment works would "result in odour nuisance arising"

Masterplan for 50 homes on the A371 Portway in Wells
Masterplan for 50 homes on the A371 Portway in Wells -Credit:Gleeson Land Ltd.

The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that the matter will be settled by an in-person public inquiry on August 6, rather than being handled by written representations.

To make a formal statement as part of the appeal process, visit www./acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk and quote case number 3338956 by June 20.