Crewkerne Town Council has agreed to see if the appeal decision, to allow a housing development of up to 150 dwellings on land south of Kithill, can be legally challenged. Concerns were raised by members of the public at Monday evening’s online town council meeting. In the Open Forum, questions were raised on the validity of the report by the Secretary of State planning inspector, who visited the Crewkerne site, during lockdown on March 30th. At that time, there were very few or no vehicles using Cathole Bridge Road and local families were walking along the unusually quiet road for their daily exercise. It was also suggested that the planning inspector had been seen talking to one of the landowners, which was viewed as being highly irregular.
One of the conditions set by the planning inspectorate, to allow the housing development to proceed, is the diversion of public right of way, footpath CH27/21 and the ‘stopping up of the pedestrian crossing’ over Network Rail’s, Automatic Half Barrier. The potential safety implications to both road users and those using the local public right of way, was considered an important matter by the planning inspector, but in mitigation an agreement since the appeal was lodged, has been reached between Network Rail and the developer.
A statement from Crewkerne Town Council was released after the online council meeting: “The Town Council was extremely disappointed to learn that the planning inspector has granted the appeal made by the developer of the Kithill housing development. The Town Council had recommended refusal of planning application 18/01737/OUT and SSDC had turned down the application, both at their Area West Committee and their Regulation Committee. It is therefore a blow to the residents of Crewkerne, the Town Council and to SSDC that the inspector has approved the application, especially as there appears to have been irregularities in the appeal process carried out by the inspector.”
Councillor Charles Aslett, chair of the Crewkerne Town Council, Planning & Highways Committee said: “A challenge to this decision can only be made through the High Court and would have to challenge the legality of the appeal process. Given the potentially exorbitant costs for such a challenge, I recommended that the Town Council seek expert legal advice.” Crewkerne Town Council has endorsed Cllr. Aslett’s recommendations and will now be seeking the necessary legal advice.