Go-ahead given for major housing schemes in Taunton

A Somerset council has approved two planning applications delivering 1,628 homes after planners concluded that harm arising from the schemes, including impacts on rural character and top-grade farmland, were more than outweighed by the need for new homes.

Staplegrove (pic: Jaggery via Geograph)
Staplegrove (pic: Jaggery via Geograph)

Taunton Deane Borough Council approved the applications at a meeting of its planning committee yesterday. The applications sought outline planning consent for 713 homes and 915 homes on the Staplegrove West and Staplegrove East sites on the northern edge of Taunton.

Alongside the homes, the applications also proposed employment uses, open spaces, a school and a local centre. A planning report, which considered both applications together, said that the sites are allocated in the council’s adopted local plan.

The document said there is "a strong national commitment to economic growth and housing delivery" and the "potential economic and social benefits of the proposals would contribute significantly to these national objectives".

Planners advised that a non-policy compliant level of affordable housing of 15 per cent would be acceptable given "proven and accepted abnormal costs on both of the application sites". The council’s targeted affordable housing rate for such schemes is 25 per cent.

Elsewhere, the report said that the development would result in the loss of some best and most versatile (BMV) agricultural land and would also "give rise to some material harm to the rural character and appearance of the area".

However, it also noted that Taunton is surrounded by BMV farmland and few options for growth would not affect it in some way. "In any event, it is considered that these harms are more than outweighed by the benefit of the provision of needed housing."

Planners also found that additional traffic from the development "would not have a severe impact on the free flow of traffic within the village of Staplegrove, and this is a considerable factor that indicates approval can be given".

Recommending approval, they concluded that there were no material considerations that would outweigh the benefits brought by the applications.

Consultancy Pegasus Group submitted the Staplegrove East application on behalf of developer PM Asset Management Ltd. The Staplegrove West proposal was submitted by Ptarmigan Staplegrove Ltd.

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