Seven new houses are to be built at the top of the High Street, on the disused tennis courts belonging to The Hollies, 1 Bovetown. A government planning inspector supported an appeal by the applicant, Mr D Atkinson, on Christmas Eve. The local planning authority had previously rejected the scheme.
This is a precis of his decision:
The inspector noted that the site is in a distinct part of the town centre and prominent in views from the High Street. He noted also that the Conservation Area is of mixed character and development next to the site is relatively dense, with significant variety in size and type of buildings.
He took the view that the three-storey element of the proposal would provide variety and interest in this important location and would be consistent with the existing neighbourhood. Most of the new houses would be near the pavement, like nearby buildings; although modern in style, their scale would be in keeping with their surroundings.
A few trees would be felled but the proposal has been carefully arranged to keep trees that are important to the character of the area.
The listed boundary wall, he said, has been realigned in recent times and removing parts of it will not harm the special interest of the listed building. The proposed iron railings to replace a fence along the top of the wall would be a considerable improvement.
The 11 on-site parking spaces are sufficient, he said, given the town-centre location. The inspector decided that as the proposal is in accordance with national and local policy, the appellant’s offer to carry out repairs to The Hollies is unnecessary. There would be no issue of loss of privacy to neighbouring properties.
This planning application proved very controversial, with a great deal of opposition from local residents.
The Conservation Society’s view was that once the site had been declared “brownfield” because of the existing hard-surface tennis courts, some form of development would inevitably take place. We supported the plans put forward as a good solution for the site, although we would have preferred no development at all.
Virtually all the criteria put forward by the architects Carlisle and Jessup and supported by the planning officers are those upheld by the inspector at the public enquiry. One is left to deduce that the rejection of the scheme by Mendip’s Glastonbury and Street Area Board was not soundly based. Furthermore, would a more experienced central planning committee, less vulnerable to local pressure, have decided differently?
There is a proposal to return to a central planning-committee procedure that operated previously for 20 years.
Plans by Mendip Housing and the Parsons family to build new houses in the garden of 41 Benedict Street, which the Parsons own, and the adjoining area of trees between Safeway and Fairfield Gardens, are the latest subject of heated dispute in the community.