The Regulation Committee of South Somerset District Council refused outline planning permission for a proposed housing development of 150 homes on agricultural land south of Kit Hill, when they met this morning in the council chamber at Brympton Way in Yeovil. Objections to the proposal were put forward by Crewkerne residents on the grounds of road safety concerns, lack of infrastructure in the town and adverse effect on protected species of wildlife and rare plants. Representing Crewkerne Town Council, Vice Chair of Planning & Highways Committee, Cllr. Charles Aslett voiced serious concerns regarding road safety along Cathole Bridge Road and the junctions with Lang Road and Lyme Road.
During his presentation, Cllr. Aslett played a video recording of the current traffic congestion along the narrow road and the problems encountered by vehicles when traffic is flowing in both directions at the same time. The level crossing over the railway line was also highlighted. Although no formal comments have been received from Network Rail, who are understood to be looking at decreasing the amount of traffic over the level crossing, it was pointed out that there is a warning sign for vehicles over 7.5 ton weight. Cllr. Aslett concluded his presentation saying: “The test is, does the need for the development outweigh the safety and lives of the people of Crewkerne. Have you driven this road?”
A recent traffic survey carried out over seven days by residents in liaison with Crewkerne Town Council show at least 2000 vehicles either travelling along Cathole Bridge Road or at its junctions over a 12 hour period on one day alone. Councillor Robin Pailthorpe said: “Cathole Bridge Road is historically a single track lane. Highways haven’t taken into account the impact that this development would have on the road. Vehicles above the weight allowed, wanting to drive over the level crossing, have to phone Network Rail for assistance. I certainly wouldn’t walk along that road.”
Regulation Committee members Cllr. Sue Osborne, Cllr. Henry Hobhouse, Cllr. Linda Vijeh and Cllr. Nick Colbert all raised serious concerns on road safety. Chairman of the committee, Cllr. Peter Gubbins said: “I drove it on Sunday and had a shock. Highways have passed the buck to us and left everything wide open.” Councillor Sue Osborne proposed the committee refuse the application for the same first and second reasons that the Area West Committee had rejected the application at its meeting in Chard Guildhall on August 21st. Her proposal was seconded and put to the vote. The outline planning application was refused by the majority of councillors with one abstention. The refusal was on the grounds that; Cathole Bridge Road by reason of its restricted width is considered unsuitable to serve as a means of access to the proposed development. The proposal is therefore contrary to Section 9 of the National Planning Policy Framework and Policy TA5 of the South Somerset District Local Plan (adopted March 2015). It is also contrary to the above Section 9 and Policies, since the increased introduction of conflicting traffic movements onto Cathole Bridge Road, such as would be generated by the proposed development, would be prejudicial to highway safety.