At today’s meeting of the Sedgemoor Development Committee members voted overwhelmingly to throw out the plans to demolish the Hope Inn and build 22 appartments on the site. A proposal by Cllr Hill (Con,Cheddar) seconded by Cllr Granter (Lab, Fairfax) rejected the plan on it’s design claiming it wasn’t in line with SDC policy D2 which called for ‘high quality and inclusive design’. Along with this a last minute objection by SCC Highways on grounds of reduced visibility was included in the reasons for rejection . The vote was 11 in favour of rejection with 3 abstentions.
Alan Hurford of Bridgwater Town Council spoke against the application as did Westover ward Councillor Brian Smedley.
Ward Councillors statement as follows ;-
“Bridgwater Town Council has objected to this, the Town’s Community Assets Working Party-that’s an amalgam of the Town Council and the Civic Society felt so strongly that we bid and succeeded in getting the building listed as an Asset of Community Value in September 2014 with full SDC support, and all town ,district and county ward representatives are objecting to this along with 30 letters of objection from local residents. This is NOT a popular planning application..
Conversion not demolition
We remain appalled at the wanton and contrived destruction of this iconic and viable building by purposeful deterioration through removal of the roof by a developer whose track record in Bridgwater is a trail of rubble heaps on the sites of former popular public houses. We recognise the statement by the Bridgwater Heritage group that this seems to be a developer completely out of touch with public feeling and local character. Clearly the Hope inn should be converted and not demolished.
The Town Councils policy on the subject of iconic buildings is that where development is proposed then an element of that iconic heritage structure or at least the façade should be retained or incorporated into the new and in a sympathetic way. This has not been the case here. It’s time we insisted on quality builds that actually fit into the areas they’re proposed for.
Taunton road –the A38 -is one of the busiest arterial roads in our town and is heavily congested at certain times of day and despite the ‘finished tommorrow’ EDF ‘improvements’ at the nearby Morrisons junction, it is and will remain a bottleneck-and at busy times traffic tends to separate itself exactly at the point of the Hope inn effectively making it 3 lane .
Exacerbate already difficult traffic problem
Clearly a development of this size will only exacerbate an already difficult traffic problem. It should be noted that opposite the proposed development is Southgate avenue – an entrance point onto Taunton road from the now overdeveloped ‘Old Taunton rd’-a narrow 19th century backstreet now home to 100’s of new build properties stacked high along the canal bank.
It should be further noted that mere metres away from this junction yet another proposed new housing development on the Paragon laundry site will see access again onto the same busy taunton road from even more houses.
And directly opposite is Hamp Green rise, with it’s access to and from Blake school, therefore heavily congested at certain times of day, shortly followed by Rhode lane, the main feeder road into the Hamp estate plus 4 other nearby roads joining onto the A38 within a short distance of each other. -5 if you include access to lakeside caravan park.
Therefore traffic generation and road safety in an area of heavy footfall is a key point of concern for this proposed development as you can see by the large number of residents from Fernleigh avenue, Hamp green rise and Taunton rd who have gone to the trouble of writing to you.
Parking provision may seem adequate but in reality this large number of residential units in an already overcrowded area will result in more pressure on limited space in nearby streets, which has been highlighted by residents responses to the application, there are many 2 car families and these streets have already come under more pressure from town centre commuters especially since the civil parking enforcement regime came into force a few years back
Detrimental impact on neighbourhood
We also believe that such a development will have a detrimental impact on the neighbourhood as the size and scale will clearly be overbearing relative to the size of the site and close proximity to neighbouring properties which will obviously suffer from overlooking.
We believe the proposed development-and this is 22 appartments on multi levels – would have a detrimental effect on the landscape, not only replacing a well loved, attractive building with a characterless block of appartments, but adding an extra storey to the rows of adjacent 2 storey homes thus impacting detrimentally upon the character of the area.The least we should expect of any development here is that any replacement should blend in with the character of the neighbourhood
This proposal appears to us-and to the many residents who have objected judging by their responses- to be cramming in as many unattractive units into one small space as they can –possibly-legally fit , at the expense of an iconic building on a key entrypoint into our town and we feel we’re with the overwhelming majority in opposing this.”
Cllr Dave Loveridge (Lab, Eastover) said “If beauty is in the eye of the beholder the designers must be myopic. This building design reminds me of Prisoner in Cell Block H”