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Plans to build 55 new homes by Wincanton Community Hospital are rejected

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

Friends of Wincanton Community Hospital have welcomed news that plans for homes have been thrown out

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Plans to build 55 homes next to Wincanton Community Hospital have been thrown out by a Government inspector.

The proposals, which would have seen the hospital site divided by a new access road, were subject to a four-day planning inquiry in July.

After months of deliberation, planning inspector Janice Trask has dismissed the appeal by Hopkins Development Limited, after the original application was rejected by South Somerset District Council.

She expressed concerns over the proposal’s impact on the hospital, the site’s location and the detrimental impact on the area’s character and appearance.

Alan Judge, treasurer for the Friends of Wincanton Community Hospital, said: “It is good news for the hospital. The main concern was the access road running through the car park.

“The development has been a shadow over the hospital. It’s a relief that it will not go ahead. We were concerned the hospital would have been forced to close temporarily while the work was being done.

“Ambulances wouldn’t have been able to get in and out of the hospital.”

In a 17-page document outlining her decision, the inspector said: “The proposed site is an agricultural field that provides a tranquil rural setting to the edge of the town.

“The introduction of a housing estate on to the site would unacceptably detract from the tranquil and rural character and appearance of the area and the setting of the hospital.

“The proposed access road would pass between the hospital and its plant rooms and bin stores which are accessed frequently by hospital staff.

“While the appellant has drawn my attention to other hospitals where there are much higher levels of traffic than expected in this case, these are large urban hospitals which generate a significant volume of traffic in themselves and do not have access to a residential estate, not associated with the hospital, passing between hospital facilities.”

The inspector acknowledged that, while the plans would improve accessibility to the site, off Dancing Lane, this did not outweigh her concerns surrounding the development.

By the time the Western Gazette went to print, a response from the appellant had not been issued.

Despite his relief that the development was dismissed, Wincanton mayor Colin Winder warned the verdict may have more serious repercussions for the town.

He said: “We won the appeal but that was just one battle .

“The inspector’s findings are concerning in that she said there’s not enough housing land available in south Somerset. This will make lives very difficult for the market towns.”

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