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The Trial Ground Development – The Facts

The Trial Ground Development – The Facts

Huish Episcopi Parish Council had consistently at every available opportunity recommended refusal of the applications to develop the field known as the Trial Ground. That’s it, plain and simple, a never changing refusal to agree to the proposed high density of dwellings envisaged by the developer.

Up until now, which is far too late, throughout the whole drawn-out process, people living in our area have shown very little, if any, interest regarding this development, Parish Council meetings and those at the offices of SSDC have come and gone, as they usually do, with less than a handful of regular individuals in attendance.

All meetings, local or at the offices of SSDC are ‘flagged up’ in good time on notice boards and this Community website, subsequent minutes are likewise displayed; therefore there is no reason not to know what is afoot.

It is not too difficult to imagine that when the developer considered purchasing the Trial Ground field that they would have been assured that the hedge was of little consequence and could be discounted when drawing up their plans. The proposal to build eighty properties even with the minimal footprints that they have, would require the full utilisation of the land available, this is what the plans confirm.

The decisions that mattered:
1) In 2015 SSDC overruled Huish Episcopi Parish Council’s refusal to accept the planning application by the developer to build eighty properties on the Trial Ground. This action not only sealed the fate of the hedge but also will have ramifications of a different order of magnitude all together regarding the entirely predictable negative impact on our already overstressed infrastructure.

2) A previous comment on this website - ‘As widely predicted (bearing in mind the huge financial implications if otherwise) the SSDC’s Regulation Committee approved the application by the developer to build 80 properties on the former ‘Trial Ground’ land, the gateway to Huish Episcopi.’

Throughout the consultation process the main concerns expressed by the Parish Council centred on the fragility of the existing infrastructure. The proposed density of the development was identified by the Council as the all-important reason for refusal. Obviously any reduction in build-density would have eased the situation regarding the beech hedge; possibly some, if not all, could have been retained.

Sewage management, flood alleviation, traffic/ roads, schools, the doctors, all these services and more are already under stress, an additional eighty more households will obviously exacerbate the situation. Not only local developments should be of concern, bear in mind those taking place in Somerton, there is no Tesco’s or a filling station or, it seems, a popular doctors’ surgery. This all goes to underwrite the Parish Council’s clear thinking behind the decision to refuse planning permission as proposed by the developer.

The concerns expressed by the Parish Council are yet to be proved, when, as they surely will be, there will no doubt be more huffing and puffing as that for the hedge but of an entirely more serious nature. At least armed with the facts detailed here the direction for expressing frustrations should be directed at the real target. If you wish to question the performance of the Parish Council all that is needed is to access the Agendas, Minutes, Did you Know? and Notices tabs on this website.

Nothing more as yet on the next possible move by the developers of The Trial Ground, however, an application to extend the development to 94 properties remains ‘on the table’, the Parish Council have already turned this down, but the writer, for one, would not be surprised if yet again they are overruled by SSDC.

Just for the record, another fact, HEPC Councillors back in 2013/14 questioned the hedge removal and the SSDC sent their Arborist to investigate and report. His findings were that there was nothing worth saving. The council also tried hard to establish the history of the hedges and the best they could come up with was it was planted after World War II as a wind-break to protect the cut flowers that Kelways had started to grow and sell.

One last thought, ‘Joe public in the street’ squabbling and blaming his own, suits the ‘big money’ nicely. Timely organised democratic resistance to perceived exploitation starts by being involved, at the outset, supporting your Parish Council, attending their meetings (check out the Agendas), making positive contributions, communicating with our SSDC Councillor (who in this instance also voted against approval) and our MP. All ‘pulling together’ from the outset would seem the best policy if further proposals for high-density developments are to be effectively challenged in the future.