- By Daniel Mumby
- Local Democracy Reporting Service
A coastal town could almost double in size if several major new housing developments are approved.
Watchet, on the west Somerset coast, has seen significant interest from housing developers in recent years.
Four sites could deliver nearly 900 new homes between them, increasing the current population by around 45%.
A group opposed to the plans said they would place “the already strained existing infrastructure under unsustainable pressure”.
The town, which sits between Minehead and the mouth of the River Parrett, along with the surrounding villages, is one of the few parts of Somerset not adversely affected by the ongoing phosphates crisis.
Plans for tens of thousands of new homes across the country face being delayed or scrapped because of river pollution that could cost the economy £16bn.
The four sites for development in west Somerset include:
- The former Wansborough Paper Mill, B3191 Brendon Road (280 homes)
- Liddymore Park, Liddymore Lane (250 homes) – currently under construction
- Parsonage Farm, B3191 Brendon Road (230 homes)
- Cherry Tree Way and Normandy Avenue (139 homes)
If all four sites are approved, a total of 899 new homes will be delivered.
The most recent of the four applications concerns the Parsonage Farm site near Watchet Cemetery, part of which was used for Watchet Musical Festival until 2022.
In addition to the 230 homes planned for the site, the existing farm buildings near Brendon Road will be converted into commercial premises.
The Parsonage Farm Action Group is now crowdfunding to fight the plans.
The Wansborough site (the western-most of the four locations) has been vacant since the paper mill closed in December 2015, at a loss of 176 jobs.
On the eastern side of the town, Taunton’s Summerfield Developments is currently constructing the first phase of the Liddymore Park estate on Liddymore Road.
The final development site lies on the town’s eastern edge, straddling three agricultural fields either side of Normandy Avenue and Cherry Tree Way.
Under Edenstone Homes’ proposals, the properties will be concentrated at the southern end of the site, with a new access road being created off Doniford Road.
The northernmost section will be set aside as a hilltop park, with a large swathe of land south of Doniford Road being set aside for enhanced biodiversity.
Decisions on each of the developments, including the later stages of Liddymore Park, will made later in the year.