Posted: 03.08.20 at 15:55 by Tim Lethaby
Concerns have been raised over plans to build 129 homes on the site of the former Greencore factory in Evercreech.
A virtual public meeting was held last week where the plans were put forward to villagers, but many were concerned about the pressure on the village infrastructure and the loss of a site that offered recruitment.
More than 120 attended the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the land owners, West Park Estates, and their planning consultants Lichfields.
Neil Westwick from Lichfields told the meeting: "What is planned is 129 homes on the site, ranging between two, three and four-bedroom properties with the access from Prestleigh Road, which is the main site access, with a single spine road running through the site, leading to a bit of green space on the corner, another bit of green space leading into that.
"Also there is a link through into the playing fields area and then importantly, on the southern access, there is stepping that access back, putting in a footpath, and setting back those houses to give them a breathing space and allow allow more openness there because it's all very tight there at the moment with the industrial buildings.
"Our view is now that something has to happen with the site. The site has finished its industrial life.
"It is suffering from very significant vandalism and we want to address that through this application as quickly as possible so the buildings can essentially be demolished."
However, many villagers and the Mendip district councillor for the Creech ward, Barry O'Leary, were worried by the plans.
He said: "I am determined that our community has its voice heard loud and clear on the future of Evercreech and on this important matter.
"County, district and parish councils, as well as the owners, must act now for the long-term positive benefit for everyone in our community.
"If we as citizens take a stand now, we can grasp this opportunity to renew the village, and enhance services, and, in addition, ensure the former Greencore site continues to provide local employment and supports innovation.
"The first factory gates opened 120 years ago. With the Greencore closure this is our chance to build back better, and no matter what is built on the factory site, our village also needs more green space and a modern traffic management plan.
"As we are all bitterly disappointed at the poor efforts and performance by the present owner, we need to act immediately.
"There has already been a uniquely long and shameful list of negative impacts on our community.
"We have all suffered from the recent foul smells, the escape of dairy by-products, vandalism, antisocial behaviour, ongoing nuisance, and the wanton destruction of mature poplar trees.
"What must not now be added to the list is an ill-conceived, unecological, and quite unimaginative out of character development that will only pile on further traffic movements and congestion into the village.
"It is clear there will only be a negative impact on Evercreech from the addition of 129 homes with a consequent overwhelming pressure on village infrastructure and our environment.
"The rejection of any plan for employment use will rob future generations of local work opportunities.
"It ignores the obvious need for associated infrastructure including any matched expansion of the village shop or adding more retail and community services to serve a much expanded population.
"There is a lack of any integration with the village with the current proposed development, since the site owners plan to build a gated citadel that would in effect be a stranded urban island in a rural village. The new residents there would be cut-off from the rest of Evercreech.
"There seems a determination to wipe away our finely built village heritage forever. By seizing on English Heritage’s decision, taken on technical grounds, not to provide listing protection for the original buildings, the site owners are being selfishly opportunistic and insensitive. The architecture is of quality and an important part of our village.
"Finally, there is a lack of ecological or design awareness. Their plan is for a bland off the shelf standardised and very unimaginative development that could be built in any inner city setting.
"Their repeated reference to profits or margins showed the true direction of travel of their proposal.
"They show little thought or concern for impacts on our rural settlement including parking provision or the visual impact of an unsuitable design in a beautiful rural environment."