CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 400 homes on the edge of Ilminster have been approved.

South Somerset District Council’s regulation committee agreed to give the go-ahead for an application for outline planning for the homes, despite large public opposition and a recommendation for refusal from district councillors.

The plans, for land off Canal Way, were submitted by Persimmon Homes South West in January, and have faced opposition, in particular over the access to the site, a lack of infrastructure in the town and the amount of the homes proposed.

The outline application only includes specific details about the access to the site.

The Highways authority initially recommended the plan for refusal.

However, after Persimmon modified the site entrance to include two zebra crossings and made certain a second access from Adams Meadow was for emergency vehicles only, Highways recommended approval.

Other details, such as the road layout and the type of housing, will need to be put forward in a new 'reserved matters' application, which the council will again be able to approve or refuse.

A spokesman for South Somerset District Council said: “The application was approved subject to legal agreement in relation to contributions towards community leisure facilities etc.

“There will be a number of conditions attached to the consent including time to submit reserved matters details etc.

“One of those requires the completion of the access and works to the roundabout before development on the houses commences.”

Ahead of the regulation committee, more than 160 members of the public had written to SSDC to express their views on the application.

Based on the 2011 census, the number of homes in Ilminster is set to rise by 17 per cent if a full application gets approved.

Linda Piggott-Vijeh, county councillor for Ilminster, and Val Keitch, district councillor for Ilminster, have both spoken out in the past about the volume of homes planned for the Canal Way site.

Cllr Keitch, who is also mayor of Ilminster, said: “I do have major concerns for the future of Ilminster because of the density of the site, the highways issues, and the lack of employment opportunities in Ilminster.”

Among other concerns raised by both councillors and members of the public were fears over flooding, a lack of a masterplan, and additional traffic from an improved Greenfylde School.