It has been reported in Thursday’s Somerset Guardian that Curo have decided to sell the field opposite Maynard Terrace as they now realise that the project is not viable and appear to lay the blame with the Parish Council.
Here is the full statement from the Parish Council which has now been sent to the Somerset Guardian:
‘We were not surprised to hear of Curo’s decision to not pursue their proposed development in the field opposite Maynard Terrace. We are well aware of the challenging site they had chosen, and over the years have seen other developers assess the field and walk away because of its unsuitability and because of the costs associated with this location.
Public opinion was overwhelmingly against the development with 185 letters from local people objecting to it, for many valid reasons and no letters in support. 66% of the addresses were from within Clutton excluding Maynard Terrace, this clearly shows that we are representing the majority of the village. Additionally 73 people came to the Parish Council meeting at which this was discussed and only 1 person spoke in support, so it was clearly our duty to put their views forward in our consultation reply.
As a Parish Council we have tried to work with Curo – at our request there have been two meeting with them on the 22nd May 2014 and 4th Feb 2015, at which we discussed the problems and put forward suggestions for alternative layouts/build details, some of which would have resulted in long term savings for the ongoing maintenance of their properties. Both these meetings were minuted and copies sent to the planning cases officers involved. At no time did Curo indicate that the sort of improvements we were suggesting in order to comply with planning guidance and best practice would cause difficulties in terms of the viability of the scheme.
It should have been clear to Curo, as developers, from the start that the site would prove to be expensive to build on. Anyone, even someone without experience in development, can see by looking at the site, and at Ordnance Survey maps, that the site slopes steeply with deep undulations. Maps of the geology, available from Ordnance Survey and on line from the Coal Authority, show that 3 coal seams outcrop in the development area, and that additionally there is one mine shaft and several bell pits on the site. All of these can be remediated, but at a cost. As developers they must surely have known this and factored it in before they purchased the land.
Outline permission having been granted, the Parish Council, representing residents, took the view that it should work constructively to secure the best possible design and layout. The fact that the scheme brought forward by Curo bore so little resemblance to the original proposals, either in appearance or quality, was entirely Curo’s decision and can only reflect a failure to listen to residents and accurately assess the real costs of developing this awkward site to an acceptable standard in the first place. The Parish Council’s formal objections to the detailed application are all carefully based on planning best practice and adherence to important B&NES planning policies.
We support the provision of affordable housing in the right location and would urge any developer wanting to build in Clutton, to work with the Parish Council to identify a site and scheme that would benefit local people and which could be supported by the local community.