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Trial Ground - Planning Meeting 27.06.2018 – Application by Persimmon Homes to build 80 properties – Refused.


For those not acquainted with the proceedings leading up to the decision by South Somesrset District Council Planning Committee the following, hopefully, may throw some light on the subject.

An ‘out of the blue’ and in parallel application to build 94 properties on the site having already been discounted, was not materially discussed.

Huish Episcopi Parish Council, on ten occasions recommended refusal of the application, from October 2013 up until May 2015 upon being informed that SSDC’s had granted outline planning approval in October 2015. In the main the Parish Council’s reasons for refusal were mirrored by the very same objections read out at the meeting and influencing the decision to refuse!

For those who will be making the decisive decision, given outline planning has been granted, the scales appear to be biased towards a go-ahead regardless of the validity of the objections. If this were to come about, it appears very likely that a hostile reaction will follow. One way to avoid this would be for Persimmon Homes to address the stated concerns that are in its power to do so leaving all beyond that for others to take responsibility for the consequences of an over stressed infrastructure.

The meeting itself:
Things got underway at 3:30pm as published with SSDC Planning Officer Mr Millar describing, with the aid of projected drawings, the various, what can only be described as detail changes to that hitherto submitted. It was confirmed that due to time restraints the County Highways Department had not submitted their assessment of the proposals. This fact showed signs of significance beyond itself, later in the proceedings.

For the unaware, contributions from the public must not take longer than 3 minutes each and where possible not duplicate a point already made, although how each is supposed to know, apart from Parish Councillors, what the others are going to say, would seem a near impossibility.

Please click on the following names to read their speeches.

Huish Episcopi Parish Council: Creole Palmer
Huish Episcopi Parish Council: Chairman Shirley Nicholas

Huish Episcopi Parishioner: Clive Sills
Huish Episcopi Parishioner: Rosie Till
Huish Episcopi Parishoner: Clive Miller

Following the above contributions, the Planning Council then went into general discussion centred about the points raised by the above named speakers with additional questioning by a Councillor regarding the adequacy of the road widths in response to which was stated that as drawn they complied with site designation. However, what does not seem to enter the equation is the density of properties, each inevitably lacking adequate off road parking and thus leading to cars lining the road. Given that this will almost certainly be the case, the question was put, how were fire engines expected to gain access in the case of an emergency and who would be held responsible for approving a potentially dangerous set of circumstances should things go wrong. The tragedy at Grenfell Tower was mentioned – a lack of in depth scrutiny of proposals possibly leading to frightening consequences.

Whilst not discussed, a recent in-the-news instance of a fire engine attending an emergency finding the road width reduced by half due to parked cars, the driver having no alternative but to plough through front gardens and parked cars. Also waste collection lorries having to stop short due to the lack of access resulting in the bins having to be taken to the lorries or not being emptied, give credence to this issue.

All finally came down to a general consensus, the scheme, as put forward did not address valid long-standing objections or those raised during discussion.

A decision had to be made, the choice between deferment or refusal. It seemed, although not said, that terms for deferment could possibly be construed as being satisfied by the missing report coming into being from the County Highyays Department confirming no doubt that all was within acceptable norms. Thus the deferment would have been successfully addressed without satisfying any of the objections! This could be seen as a cynical way of looking at what the deferment option inferred, but clearly given the air of general confusion it did cross one’s mind.

The voting resulted in a split result, four in favour of deferment and four for refusal; the Chairmen used his vote in favour of a refusal.