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Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010
Pressure to build on 'green lungs' in Taunton
Taunton's Green Wedge
Local residents in Taunton fear losing green spaces near their homes

Fears are being raised by people in Taunton over a major consultation to build 21,000 new homes in the Taunton Deane area.

The consultation held by Taunton Deane Borough Council is in response to the regional spatial strategy (RSS) which states that Somerset needs 62,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

One element includes proposals to build 600 new homes in Vivary Green Wedge, which is an area of land near to the Killams and Mountfields housing estates known as Taunton's "green lungs".

'Fresh air'

Dave Berry, the chairman of Save Vivary's Green Wedge, said: "We've got this fresh air that streams from the South West all the way through to the centre of town, right through the Vivary Green Wedge.

"It's a beautiful part of the county and they want to build 600-700 houses."

They fear these plans will contravene the Green Wedge Policy created to protect undeveloped land.

Councillor Alan Paul, speaking on behalf of the council, said: "The Green Wedge Policy is to prevent the merging of settlements and keeping the separate identities.

"We want that to continue; [the] issue is whether this extra build of 600 houses will damage or destroy that policy.

"The Killams site has been around for a long time and was put into the spatial strategy by the former Conservative administration in 2005."

The other sites that are being considered for future development include 485 new homes at Bishops Hulls and 3,000 new homes at larger sites like Comeytrowe; the rest of the identified sites can be found in Taunton Deane's Core Strategy .

Although the RSS is currently on ice after a legal challenge was made regarding the East of England's RSS, councils are still obliged to continue with the consultation.

This is part of the Core Strategy, which is the long-term spatial vision for a local planning authority's area and looks at housing, economic growth and infrastructure, but is not a draft plan and does not contain planning policies.

'Mammoth total'

However in the short term, councils must also have a supply of land available for development over the next five years and it is thought that smaller ones are more likely to go ahead to meet housing needs.

This is because the larger developments, like Comeytrowe have more planning conditions attached to them, like the scale of infrastructure and are dependent on external factors like the state of the economy and the growth rate of the local population to justify such large scale developments.

Councillor Alan Paul, speaking on behalf of Taunton Deane Borough Council, said: "We have a legal duty to identify sites for up to 18,000 houses, but we do not have to build 18,000 houses.

"If, in the next decade, the economy of Taunton stays sluggish, or recession comes back or the jobs aren't there, this mammoth total will not be built, whether a RSS exists or not.

"But we do have to plan for some growth. Some jobs will be there, Project Taunton will happen and we, as a community, want to make sure that we stay in control.

"If we don't have a supply of land, over a five year plan, initially, which will meet Taunton's needs, developers will bypass the whole planning process, they will appeal to the Secretary of State and they will build wherever they like without the community or the council being in control."

This particular stage of the consultation is due to end on Sunday, 28 February, but there will be more stages, with the final one due in September 2011.

Have your say: Where you would like to see more houses built in Taunton over the next 20 years?

All these houses, none of which I will be able to afford, will mean one thing.. cars ,cars and more cars. Taunton's roads are already a joke. A massive restructuring of the roads would be absolutely necessary to deal with the enormous increase in traffic.
Jos, Taunton

Yet another building plan. The Victorians left us with grand railway stations, red terrace houses and parks; Edwardians, grand homes beautiful proportioned. In the 1930 suburbia was invented. All have positives and negatives. However those vile and poorly designed homes of the late 20th and early 21st century will be remembered as a time of little to no grace with an eye always on statistics and money. The later leaves us with ugly boils on a scared and characterless landscape. If there were more men like the Prince of Wales who fought for Poundbury near Dorchester our landscape might still inspire. Instead almost every county town is turning into a scene which even Stalin would have been horrified by. These homes won't last to the next century unlike those of architectural integrity which were built with stone, brick and mortar. Not breeze blocks, ply board and super glue. Uninspiring homes for the uninspired masses perhaps.

If this build goes ahead on the green wedge taunton it will destroy an area of outstanding natural beauty, and will be urban sprall. The new conservative and lib dems are against the last labour government regional spatial strategies on housing needs in the future for the west country and have promised to give the power back to the local people to decide where and when they will need more housing. The 650 houses will cause grid lock on our streets as we have a traffic problem at the moment. The pollution cars cause each morning and evening is all near three schools so our children will be breathing in even more car fumes
Edwina Pirie, Taunton

What a bunch of bananas!! (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything)

I can recall all of these arguments being put forward to try to stop Killams, Hillyfields, Blackbrook, Nerrols Farm, the Bossington Drive extension, Swains Lane at Wellington. Funnily enough they are all occupied.

As for 'hoping all the house are built, nobody buys them and the developers go bust', I hope you don't have friends or relatives in the building trade or any of the many shops and trades linked to it. And do you really think they will build 100s of houses behind a fence then one day open the gate and try and sell them? No, like every new residential estate you have ever seen go up they build a few, sell a few - or sometimes even the other way around.
Brian, Wellington

Oh dear! The last thing Taunton needs is more new houses. Wherever you look, houses and flats are springing up like mushrooms in a particularly bad patch of damp.

And, as other commentators have said, hardly anyone can afford them.

If we do have to have more new houses, please please please make it affordable social housing. While you're at it, a larger theatre that can double as a concert venue would be really useful as well - it's shameful for a town like Taunton not to have a decent-size venue.

Otherwise, as Russ Taylor says, let's hope no-one buys the houses and the developers go bust. Now that's the sort of Project Taunton I'd really like to see!
Mark Edwards, Taunton

At this rate, within my lifetime, I will see all greenery within and surrounding Taunton disappear. What a great shame and so very sad, some of us like to see something more than concrete and tarmac in our towns.

I sincerely hope that all these houses are built, and no one buys them and the developers all go bust. The constant cramming of overpriced houses that offer little in the way of architecture to admire saddens me. Not a period of development and expansion we should be proud of.

What happened to gardens kids can play in?
Russ Taylor, Taunton

Excuse me, but who is going to be moving into these houses. Taunton certainly has some homeless people, and some who live in the fairly appalling housing in Inner and Outer Circle, but they could not afford the kind of housing being proposed. I doubt I could afford it as a technical officer in the Civil Service with letters after my name. I couldn't afford the tiny new houses that were built near me 10 years ago.

If the occupants of these houses are working out of Taunton, which they must be to afford them, then connections to Exeter and Bristol (where I presume they will be working) must dramatically improve, with consequent improvements in bus services round Taunton to reach the bus and train stations.
Julia Rabbitts, Taunton

Taunton needs to grow gradually otherwise its growth will not be sustainable. The plans appear to be based on a philosophy of, "build it & they will come".

Trains to Bristol (where the jobs are) are already over crowded with commuters.

Bristol has enough empty office space that needs filling. A major building project in Taunton is a folly that will result in empty office buildings and deserted housing estates at great expense to the community and the environment.

It is telling that an empty shop has been utilised to promote Taunton's building project.
Colin Worts, Taunton

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