Numerous objections have been received by South Somerset District Council to building plans at a former nursery school in Crewkerne. The planning application, submitted by an agent on behalf of First Court Accommodation Ltd, requests permission for the demolition of an existing rear wing and open shelter, the erection of a two storey rear extension comprising of four one bedroomed flats, one studio flat within the roof space and the erection of a two storey side extension comprising of a one bedroomed dwelling at 18 Abbey Street.

Residents living in Abbey Street and Pople’s Well and the trustees of Speedwell Hall have strongly objected to the plans on the grounds that it is an over development of an existing site, there is insufficient on-site parking, a lack of amenity space and that the proposal is completely out of character with both the Victorian building and the surrounding buildings, two of which are Grade 1 listed, within a conservation area. First Court Accommodation Ltd have previously received planning permission for six one bedroomed apartments, which are already under development. The new planning application if granted, would result in a total of 12 dwellings on the site, with a statutory requirement of a minimum of 18 residential car parking spaces and a recommended 2 – 3 visitor parking bays.

Letters of objections received have also raised concerns on the road safety, stating that the ingress/egress points for parking shown on the application, would create an obvious hazard as they appear to connect directly with the route into the public car park, situated behind 18 Abbey Street. There is also grave concerns on the safety of school children and their parents, who walk through the public car park on their way to Ashlands School.

Crewkerne Town Council discussed the planning application at their November meeting of the Planning and Highways Committee. Councillors recommended refusal on the grounds of over-development, insufficient parking and lack of amenity space. Councillor Paul Bradly advised the other councillors that there was evidence of Japanese knotweed on the site and that no-one should contemplate building there until that had been resolved and all traces of the invasive weed removed.

Japanese knotweed is a non-native invasive weed which grows rapidly and spreads relentlessly. The aggressive weed which over-runs other native plants, can grow through tarmac and concrete, reducing the market value of properties affected significantly. Disposal of the weed and any soil that has been contaminated by it, is legally classed as controlled waste and must adhere to strict guidelines issued by the Environment Agency. A decision by SSDC on the planning application is expected on December 11th and planners have been recently made aware of the Japanese knotweed problem.


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