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A MAJOR housing project in Somerset can go ahead after the developer has received permission to move soil across the site.

Taylor Wimpey Exeter will spend the coming years delivering a total of 635 homes at the key Crewkerne site, which sits between the A30 Yeovil Road and the A356 Station Road.

The developer has obtained detailed permission to deliver the first 110 homes at the south end of the site in January 2021, with construction officially starting around Christmas.

South Somerset District Council must now agree to amend the original plans, allowing Taylor Wimpey to move material from the north end of the site to the south end so that the new access road can be delivered.

To allow the movement of materials through the site, a new haul road will be created between the A30 and the A356.

This will follow the route of the dorsal route crossing the site, the route of which was decided in May 2020.

Planning officer John Hammond told a virtual meeting of the council’s regulatory committee on Tuesday morning (January 18) that the changes would help ensure the new road was delivered in full within the next 18 months.

Chard & Ilminster News: The northern end of the key Crewkerne site, near the A30 Yeovil road.  CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.  Free to use for all BBC partners.

He stated in his written report: “There is merit in seeking to reuse materials from the same global site, given that the first access on Station Road will require backfilling of the ground given the difference in levels between the terrain and the road itself.

“Conversely, in relation to the access which will be taken on the A30, the ground is considerably higher than the road at the approved junction, which means that there will be a significant need for excavation of materials to create this junction and the internal routes. ”

Crewkerne resident Julie Chant worried whether the new haul road would harm the ecology of the site, asking for clarification on how badgers, dormice and otters would be protected.

She said: “This route will cut through the badger sets. I don’t think there’s enough clarity on how they’re going to protect all of these species.

“I understand that Taylor Wimpey has licenses from Natural England for the south site – but they are working on the whole site.

“Are all licenses in place for protected species and hedge removal? Everyone knew that ecology was the big thing on this site.

Colin Danks of Peter Brett Associates (representing the developer) assured Ms Chant that the impact of the road would be properly mitigated – and the construction would ultimately prevent further pollution in the town centre.

He said: “Ecology is an essential part of our process. There is a clear safety net with Natural England that would prevent any harm to badgers, otters or dormice.

“The aim of this app is to do just one thing: avoid having to drive heavy traffic through Crewkerne town centre. We need to move material, and doing it on site just makes sense. »

After approximately 45 minutes of debate, the committee voted to approve the plans by a margin of six to zero, with two abstentions (Councillor Adam Dance, due to technical difficulties, and Councilor Peter Gubbins, who elected not to not vote).

Taylor Wimpey said in December that he expects the first phase of homes on the site to be available for purchase by the fall.

Chard & Ilminster News: Crewkerne's key site in the context of the city.  CREDIT: LHC Group.  Free to use for all BBC partners.

Mr Hammond added that Somerset County Council was currently renegotiating its own legal agreement with Taylor Wimpey over funding for a new primary school.

He said in his report: “There is a separate agreement with the county council as the local education authority to provide a site for a first school, as well as capital to secure new buildings.

“Following its resolution to move to a two-tier education service for the area, the county council is separately seeking to revise this requirement to reflect the need for off-site education work funding and to remove the requirement for a school site.”

The county council’s controversial school reforms – which have successfully withstood judicial scrutiny by local parents – will be implemented in time for the new school year in September.