Proposals could result in nearly 100 more homes being built near Wells

By Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter

NEARLY 100 new homes could be built on two neighbouring sites near Wells if new plans are approved.

Gleeson Land Ltd is having a second attempt at developing a site north of the B3139 Elm Close, after permission for 68 homes was refused by Mendip District Council in December 2020 – a decision which was subsequently upheld by the Planning Inspectorate.

The Fleet-based developer has put forward proposals for 50 homes on the site, which lies between the existing properties and the Wells Touring Park.

This comes as Wells LVA LLP and Little Burcott Ltd have put forward outline proposals for a further 47 homes between Elm Close and Gypsy Lane – with a decision on both plans being expected by the end of the year.

The Gleeson site (known as New House Farm) lies opposite the Priory Fields development which is being delivered jointly by Bovis Homes and Taylor Wimpey.

Under the proposals, the existing farm buildings will be demolished to make room for an attenuation pond and an improved access onto the A371 Portway.

The existing public right of way running through the site will be enhanced, providing a safe walking and cycling link between the A371 and B3139 past the existing homes.

The planned properties will range from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses, with 20 of the 50 homes being affordable – in excess of the council’s 30 per cent target for major developments in the former Mendip area.

A large amount of green open space, including a children’s play area, will be retained at the northern edge of the site to provide a buffer with the touring park.

Masterplan for 50 homes on the A371 Portway ( Gleeson Land Ltd)

A spokesman for the applicant said: “The delivery of this site for residential development presents the opportunity to make an efficient use of the site in a manner that respects the amenities of neighbouring properties and its location on the edge of the settlement.

“The site lies adjacent to the existing built up area with existing development to the north, south and east.

“It is well located on a main route into the town centre, to existing facilities and services, and will deliver a logical and sustainable extension to the built up area of Wells.”

The proposed southern development would be built between Gypsy Lane and an approved development of 100 homes from Gladman Developments, which was approved back in January 2020.

A new access would be created on Elm Close, with the public right of way which separates the site from the Gladman development being maintained, providing a safe route to Burcott Lane.

The homes will fan out from the new access route, with the southern edge being set aside for public open space, attenuation ponds and a green buffer to provide a soft edge between Wells and the neighbouring village of Wookey.

Out of the 47 homes planned for the site, 19 will be affordable – the equivalent of 40 per cent of all properties.

Masterplan for 47 homes on the B3139 Elm Close (FCPR)

A spokesman for FCPR (representing the applicant) said: “A review of existing active travel infrastructure has established that the site is well-located to connect to key local amenities and facilities within an easy walking distance, as well as all areas of Wells within a 15- to 30-minute cycle ride.

“The proposals for the adjacent site include the widening of the footway along the B3139 to three metres, to become a shared pedestrian and cycle path.

“It is proposed that the three-metre path continues into the site access at Gypsy Lane, from where cycles would then utilise the carriageway – given the volume and speed of traffic, it would not necessitate segregated cycle provision.

“Further points of connection will be made along the eastern site boundary connecting to the adjacent residential scheme, providing for the permeability of both scheme for active travel connections between them.”

Both sites lie within half a mile of the existing Strawberry Line active travel route, which will eventually stretch uninterrupted between Yatton and Shepton Mallet.

Neither site is identified for housing within the Mendip Local Plan Part II, which was ratified by councillors in December 2021.

While elements of the Local Plan Part II need to be revised following a successful judicial review, the elements concerning Wells and the neighbouring villages remain legally binding.

Somerset Council is expected to make a decision on both applications before Christmas; however, it is not currently known whether the decision will be taken in public by its planning committee east or through the delegated powers of its planning officers.

Main image: Aerial view of the proposed site of 50 homes on the A371 (Gleeson Land Ltd)