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Angry residents hit out at Medusa Stonemasonry expansion plan

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

Badgers Cross residents are opposed to plans to expand a stonemasons plant near their homes. They say the development does not respect the countryside

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Angry residents in Somerton and the town council have opposed the expansion of a stonemasons.

Councillors were divided over a bid by Medusa Stonemasonry to expand its works at Badgers Cross Lane.

But after residents living near the site raised concerns about noise, traffic and flooding, a majority of councillors voted against the expansion.

Medusa Stonemasonry’s site was granted planning permission in November last year despite more than 100 letters of objection and against the advice of highways officials. Members of Somerton Town Council also opposed the original site plans.

Now Medusa has applied to South Somerset District Council for planning permission to extend its building and change the use of the yard.

Badgers Cross Lane resident Terry Bastyan said: “I have major concerns about the expansion and consider that any increase in size will have a detrimental impact on highway safety. Medusa Stonemasonry has not respected the countryside in the development.

“The site is a sea of concrete and I believe the integrity and visual aesthetics of the area have already been damaged.

“Since Medusa Stonemasonry have occupied the site a large amount of water has been coming off the site and on to the road which I believe highlights the poor drainage.”

He asked councillors: “Hand on heart, when you look at that entrance do you really believe that’s in keeping with the surrounding area?”

Resident Sue Golting, who lives opposite the site, said the entrance is on a blind bend in a narrow road and heavy trucks were causing problems as they turned into the site.

The council voted to recommended the district council refuses the expansion plans.

Councillor Helen Fraser-Hopewell said: “We are here to support residents. Having objected once we must object again. Nothing has changed. In fact it has got worse. ”

Councillor Michael Fraser-Hopewell said: “Most of us were against the original application and I can’t understand why it was passed by the district council’s Area North Committee.

“Nothing has changed so I would not be able to support this application.”

Councillor Tony Jotcham said his only concerns with the application were the flooding issues and the noise.

Councillor Dean Ruddle gave his support and said he had visited the site and was very impressed with the professional operation.

Nick Laurence, managing director of Medusa Stonemasonry, defended his company’s plans to expand in Badgers Cross Lane.

He said expansion was necessary to protect the “future viability” of the business.

He said: “It will give security to the businesses in these tough economic times.

“Stone firms have been suffering and some firms have closed down.”

Mr Laurence said the extension is needed to house a new stone cutting machine.

He said the expansion will create three new jobs for the area.

Mr Laurence said adding to the stone cutting capability at the yard would help traffic by reducing deliveries.

He also said he had been talking with highways officials about drainage in the area.

Mr Laurence claimed the proposed extension would enclose more of the operations in the yard and reduce noise.

Responding to concerns about the visual impact of the development, he said the site was a huge improvement on what was there before.

He said: “We don’t want to upset anyone but we would like people to recognise that we contribute quite a lot to the local economy.”

A spokesman for South Somerset District Council said the latest application could be decided by councillors on the Area North committee.

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