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‘Prison’ development gets the green light

PLANS to build a controversial block of flats in Rhode Lane, Bridgwater have been given the go-ahead.

Sedgemoor council’s development committee yesterday voted by 10-5 to demolish Penlea House and replace it with a four-storey block of 33 one- and two-bedroom flats.

A number of councillors tried to stop the development, arguing the block would be out of character and lead to a loss of privacy for existing residents.

The council previously secured permission to build 36 flats on the site, split into three blocks of two storeys each.

Labour Cllr Li Gibson, one of several objectors to the new plans, said: “I think it looks a bit like a prison. Why did it move from the two-storey design to this massive development?

“I think it’s disgusting to have one window for an entire flat.”

Cllr Liz Leavy (Labour) added: “Local residents are shocked and surprised by what is now proposed.

“Not only would this development be exceptionally close to neighbouring properties, but it would not be in keeping with the area.”

Cllr Leigh Redman (Labour) said residents would be happy with the previously-approved proposals despite the larger number of flats.

He said: “The now-empty building is an eyesore, the area needs regeneration and the community needs more accommodation.

“Most of the people that I speak for are happy with the already agreed proposal. They are content with the three blocks that would provide the accommodation required and not dramatically impact people’s lives the way this monstrosity would.

“I urge you to go and look at the site. Pictures do not do this huge development justice.”

More than 50 letters of objection against the plans were logged on the council’s planning portal, along with a petition against the development with more than 100 signatures.

Despite these objections, numerous councillors spoke in support of the plans, either praising the design or acknowledging the need for more social housing.

Cllr Alastair Hendry (Con) said: “To reduce the value of neighbouring properties is never a reason to turn this kind of thing down.”


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