Update on the WRR and lifting of the 651 restriction

Posted on 10th July, 2018 in News

Communication received from Alyn Jones (SCC) is available below providing an update on the  Western Relief Road and the lifting of the 651 restriction:

I write in response to your email, to explain and clarity some of the issues that you have raised. This matter has been discussed with Taunton Deane Borough Council and the relevant Somerset County Council Officers.

I feel it is necessary to elaborate on the time line and reasons behind the decisions that were taken, although I should be clear that these were collaborative decisions, between TDBC, SCC and the developer partners. At all times, the aim of this exercise was to try and achieve the best solution for the wider community through the delivery of this highway link.

The reason for imposing the trigger of 651 homes was to ensure the delivery of the Western Relief Road (WRR). Unfortunately circumstances were such that the ‘Option’ for the acquisition of the land was time bound. It was therefore necessary for the developer to exercise this option and commit the necessary funds to purchase the land required to enable the WRR to be delivered. It should be noted however, that the developer of the Hartnells Farm site, may never have contributed the anticipated £1m as they could have implemented the consent with the ‘cap’ of 150 dwellings and waited for the completion of the WRR before completing their site.

The considered opinion of the Authorities and the developer was that it was better to secure the land and have the developer commit to the delivery of the WRR, rather than lose the land and potentially prejudice the delivery of this link indefinitely.

As such, there was a Deed of Variation agreed between all parties, dated 9 August 2017. This Deed of Variation allows the 651 trigger to be exceeded prior to the completion of the WRR; however the land has been purchased and is secured. In the spirit of the agreement, a material start has also been made on the WRR and the planning permission is now live. It is our understanding that once the funding package is in place, works will commence on this road in earnest. The need for the WRR has been well documented in the respective transport assessments for the area and all parties are now focused on resolving the funding gap.

This matter, along with others regarding the delivery of the Monkton Heathfield Development, has been discussed at the Monkton Heathfield Governance Board.

Whilst this issue is ongoing, all parties are working together to ensure the delivery of the WRR as soon as we are able.

Regards,

Alyn Jones
Director of Economic and Community Infrastructure Operations
Somerset County Council

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