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Posted on 29th January, 2019



UPDATE 11 Mar 18 BPC Resident Complaint Upheld


Bleadon residents are not the only ones concerned with how local councillors are respresenting and/or misrepresenting them. Below is an open letter from a Sedgemoor resident who has  "... lodged a complaint about the Sedgemoor decision to allow that appalling application ...to build 18 houses so close to the A38."




Dear James,


You are the MP for the residents of Brent Knoll, and we need your help.


We need you to ask the Secretary of State for Housing & Local Government to call in the application by Coln Residential to develop 18 houses at 2 Brent Street – a wholly inappropriate site for development of any kind.


We have demonstrated, at every one of the three attempts by Coln Residential to secure planning consent for this site, that we are united in our opposition to their plans to build houses at the junction of Brent Street and the A38.


We live here, so we know that this location (outside the approved development zone) is wholly inappropriate for house-building.


The access to this site is perilously close to the already dangerous junction between Brent Street and the hugely busy A38.  Indeed, the Parish Council supported an earlier application (having previously discounted this site for development) solely on the basis that the developer was offering a traffic-lights solution to that dangerous junction.


That application proved too costly, so the developer (Coln Residential) went back to the drawing board and came up with this P4 application, on the basis of delivering 7 “affordable homes”.  Our Parish Council was, for the third time, split down the middle, so sent a message to Sedgemoor District Council of “No Observations” – which belied the true picture.


On every one of the three occasions that Coln Residential submitted a planning application, the Parish Council was split in two.  The defining issue is that one councilor, who happens to be our District Councilor, our County Councilor, and the Chair of Sedgemoor’s Development Committee, chose to abandon his long-held policy of absenting himself from planning matters at the Parish Council.


[The counillor] chose, for some reason, to remain in those Parish Council meetings, to speak, and to vote, in favour of every one of Coln Residential’s applications.


This meant that we, the objectors, were limited to just one speaker and just three minutes when Sedgemoor’s Development Committee met to decide the matter last Tuesday.


[His] actions meant three things:


• He steered the Brent Knoll Parish Council to back this disastrous application, ignoring the overwhelming opposition of the residents;

• He engineered the “No observation” response from the Parish Council that the Sedgemoor Development Committee told us would be interpreted as acceptance of the application;

• He robbed us of our right to have our District and County councilor to speak for us:  he had to absent himself from the Sedgemoor meeting because he had taken part in the Parish Council discussions.


This is outrageous.


What is worse, the planning officers at Sedgemoor District Council chose to promote this application – in order to tick the box of having provided “affordable housing” in Brent Knoll – and twisted the rules in order to do so.


They were minded to have this application dealt with (and approved) under delegated powers, until your predecessor (Tessa Munt) introduced us to another County Councilor (Bill Revans), who insisted that it be brought before the Development Committee, having seen and agreed with our deep concerns.


Indeed, every one of the Development Committee members who spoke (we have an audio-record of that meeting) voiced many of the concerns that we have for that site.


They were batted aside by the two planning officers, who were not restricted to a three-minute time limit.  They spoke for ages!


When it came to the crucial issue of this being a P4 application, that must be community-led or supported, those planning officers decided to change the rules and say that they were treating this application under the yet-to-be approved T5 formula, that will (if approved) reduce community engagement from vital to “be encouraged”!


This application was opposed by more than 80 detailed objections submitted to Sedgemoor’s own planning consultation website, and more than 100 signatures on a petition.  Just six people supported the application.


We have now submitted a complaint to the Local Authority Ombudsman, and hope that you will recognise the need for you to ask the Secretary of State for Housing & Local Government to call in this application.


Very best wishes



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