Decision to change Ilminster growth plan explained
By RonnieOYeovil | Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 11:53
At a lively public meeting last week at the Shrubbery Hotel, the Leader of SSDC Cllr Ric Pallister presented the reasons why the council has changed its mind on growth proposals for Ilminster.
Local people are angry at the council's decision to change the growth plans for Ilminster.
In response to the key question of why the proposals weren't communicated to locals, those at the meeting were reminded that the original Local Plan consultation in October– December 2010 showed 3 potential development areas for Ilminster with a preferred development option alongside Canal Way. Shudrick Lane was one of other options identified for housing growth.
However it was explained that strong Town Council support for the Shudrick lane option was one of the determinants leading the District Council to review and revise its recommendations on the direction of growth.
SSDC commissioned work from consultants that showed traffic movements to and from a new development via a new distributor road linking Ditton Street with Townsend via Shudrick Lane would be perfectly reasonable and not add to town centre congestion.
The scheme was also shown to be viable with the cost of the road included.
Consequently the Shudrick Lane was recommended to the public and councillors at each of five public meetings held across the district before the recommendation was adopted by the Full Council.
Cllr Ric Pallister said: "In short, we listened to what local people were saying about the plan and in particular the Town Council as the elected representatives of the town, who had themselves undertaken significant public consultation on their emerging vision.
"The irony of being criticised for listening to the public and public representatives and changing our minds to reflect local opinion is not lost on me.
"Regrettably I suspect that were we to change our minds again as to where Ilminster should grow we would have the same level of objection but from different groups of people.
"I am heartened by the fact that the people of Ilminster are not fighting growth for the town; only where it is located.
"We have two options that meet the criteria and it would appear that community are split as to which is the best for the town. We now have to present our recommendations to independent scrutiny through a Planning Inspector.
"It is based on sound evidence and a process that has engaged and listened to people, but as always we cannot please all of the people all of the time.
"I am always prepared to explain myself and the decisions of my authority and I would like to think that I did that at the Shrubbery Lane over the three hours of debate and questions.
"Despite understandably strong feelings being in evidence, overall it was well mannered as always I welcome the public's keenness to engage on these matters.
I promised to review with the Council's Officers what the next step should be and I can confirm that my advice to those opposing the Shudrick Lane option remains to make representation through the Planning Inspector's Examination in Public of the Council's entire Local Plan.
"We will be contacting all those who left their details with us after the meeting and advising them as to how they go about making their views known to the Inspector.
"Despite the Council having made its decision regarding the proposed area for development in Ilminster, it is by no means a "done deal".
"Objectors or supporters to the current proposals have their last opportunity to comment during the current consultation, and can submit, together or individually, their comments to the District Council by the 10th August via email letter or the council website.
"All those representations will then be passed to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration later in the year when the council's proposed Local Plan is examined in detail prior to the final decisions being made."
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