A MAJOR housing developer has been told to “come up with something better” if it wants to build 200 homes in Chard.

Kier Living South West applied to build the homes between the A358 Tatworth Road and the B3162 Forton Road at the southern end of the town.

The site forms part of the Chard Eastern Development Area (CEDA), which is designed to deliver thousands of new homes, employment land and school places over the next decade.

But South Somerset District Council has deferred a final decision on the plans, calling on the developer to get round the table with local ward members and address a number of outstanding issues.

The council’s area west committee met in Chard on Wednesday evening (January 16) to discuss the detailed plans for the site, which already has outline planning permission in place.

Residents living nearby raised concerns about the mix of housing and the amount of traffic which the development could generate.

Andrew Stoodley, of Wessex Close, said: “At the moment this town is in a dire state, and this council is not helping at all.

“We need to get together, ‘cos this isn’t going to work. Kier needs to be putting bungalows on our side of the site, not houses.”

Elizabeth Ryan, of King Athelstan Drive, added: “You’ve got a lot of tractors using the road now. The bus stop is falling apart – it hasn’t been cleaned for 12 years.

“If these people want their children to walk out and get a bus, there’s no help for walking down that road – it’s ridiculous.”

Councillor Jason Baker, who chairs the committee, said the new road running through the site would create a rat run for drivers wishing to avoid town centre congestion.

He said: “The road will be used to get from one side of town to the other to avoid the junctions with the church, which are already over capacity and not suitable for large vehicles.

“I fully understand the estate road is not designed to provide the link road [between the A358 and A30], but traffic will use this to cut across from Forton Road. It’s already happening elsewhere, and this will only get worse.

“I question again how the town’s schools and medical centre can accommodate the additional houses, when they are all at capacity.”

Cllr Baker was one of several councillors who objected to the provision of garages on the site, believing their small ‘spec’ size would create more on-street parking.

He said: “Most people do not use their garage for parking. I’ve been in garages which are made to spec – you can drive your car into there, but you need a sunroof or you can’t get out.”

Cllr Linda Vijeh added: “We know most developers will try and cram in as many houses as they can. People haven’t got room to store everything in their homes.”

Cllr Ric Pallister said it would be difficult to enforce the use of garages, but accepted it was a problem.

He said: “Planning conditions should be both legal and enforceable. Do you really think someone’s going to let you into their garage to see what they are doing in there?

“Is it possible for us to put in a condition that a proportion must be car ports, not garages? The UK is the only country where we spend £30,000 on a car and fill the garage with garbage. We need to address this.”

Cllr Andrew Turpin criticised the poor provision for buses, arguing major developments should follow the example of Cranbrook in Devon and have bus stops through the middle of the site.

He said: “Accessing a bus stop from the northern end of this site will be quite impossible for pedestrians.

“I think we really need to adhere to the same principles as East Devon District Council, securing bus stops and new stations through conditions.

“If you want to go to Axminster, you have to wait on an embankment. It’s ridiculous.”

Planning officer Andrew Gunn said there were no plans to improve pavements near the site, but footpaths and a cycle path would run through the development.

He added that Somerset County Council’s highways team believed the traffic impact was “not going to be severe” – a statement which prompted shouts of profanity from members of the public.

Mr Pallister said deferring a decision on the plans would allow the council to negotiate with the developer and iron out problems with the designs.

He said: “We’re not saying we’re refusing this. What we’re saying is: ‘No, there is further work to be done.’

“We’re not trying to take houses out – we’re looking to see whether there are ways to lessen the impact on the surrounding houses.

“We have major concerns over the parking in this area. If, at the end we’re not satisfied, we can refuse it.

“If we go straight for a refusal, I think the regulation committee will struggle with this one. We need to get the developer round the table – if it can be done with Persimmon, it can be done with this one.”

The area west committee voted in June to refuse plans by Persimmon Homes South West for 315 homes on Tatworth Road, adjacent to the Kier site.

The council’s regulation committee subsequently decided in July to defer a final decision until further negotiations with the developer had taken place – with Mr Gunn stating on Wednesday (January 16) that they had “made good progress” towards an alternative layout for the houses.

Councillor Dave Bulmer added: “We need to talk, and we need to find this positive consensus with the applicant.

“We want what’s best for the town, and I think there is scope here for the applicant to come up with something better.”

The committee voted unanimously to defer the plans until further discussions with the developer had taken place – including changes to the layout, the location of the play area, and the phasing of the construction process.