Go-ahead for 765 Somerset homes despite anthrax concerns

Plans for up to 765 homes on a greenfield site on the edge of Yeovil have been given the green light by councillors, despite recognition from planners of "great concern amongst the general public" over the possibility of anthrax contamination on the site.

Primrose Lane, Yeovil (pic: Steve Barnes, Geograph)
Primrose Lane, Yeovil (pic: Steve Barnes, Geograph)

Members of South Somerset District Council's planning committee resolved earlier this week to approve plans for the scheme on a 51-hectare site on the northern edge of Yeovil, though the government will have the final say on approving the proposal.

The application sought outline consent for up to 765 homes, a care home, two hectares of employment land, a community building, neighbourhood centre, health centre, a new means of access to A359 and Lyde Road, and associated works.

Full consent was sought for several water attenuation basins and landscaping on the site which is allocated for an urban extension in the council's local plan. 

A planning report, which recommended approval, noted that there was "great concern amongst the general public about the possibility of anthrax on the site".

According to watchdog Public Health England (PHE), anthrax primarily affects herbivores, but humans can be infected through contact with spores from contaminated sources such as contaminated meat, animal hides, horse hair plaster and contaminated bone meal.

According to the BBC, the site had once been used for cattle burial.

But the planning report said that PHE had "carried out tests and has confirmed the site has been extensively tested with no indication of anthrax."

Planners advised that the "sensible course of action is to agree in principle that the site is safe for development and to incorporate [a] final recommended test by PHE into a pre commencement planning condition," alongside a further condition relating to "further testing before each development phase begins and what to do if contamination indications are found".

The report said that, "in this way public concern can be allayed and much needed and well-designed development can be supported".

Elsewhere, the planning report advised that local planning policy sought a 30 per cent affordable housing rate, but said the scheme was offering a 15 per cent rate.

Despite this, planners said that "given all the community benefits required for a new neighbourhood, given the appraised land and development costs and reasonable developer profit and risk - that 15 per cent is a reasonable affordable housing contribution".

The report also said the scheme "demonstrates ‘land value capture’ in the delivery of over £10m worth of community benefit".

Planners concluded that the scheme would "provide a sustainable development with good access to a range of services and facilities" and would "make an important contribution towards meeting the district's housing needs."

The report said the application is subject to a holding direction from the government and must receive a final go-ahead from Whitehall.

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