East Chard housing development could start in 2016

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Work on 1,900 new homes to the east of Chard, in Somerset, could start in 2016, the group behind the plans says.

The East Chard Development Consortium is about to start a public consultation and still needs planning permission.

A South Somerset District Council plan showing where homes should go across the area is currently being examined by a government inspector.

Chard town councillor Tony Prior said there had been little opposition locally to the plan for new homes.

Mr Prior said: "This area has been scheduled for the expansion of Chard probably going back 15 or 20 years.

"When I came to Chard [in 1975] there was something like 3,500 homes in Chard and it's now near 6,500.

"Chard is an industrial town, it's also a retirement town and there's been pressure to provide more housing over all this period."

Relief road

He said: "There hasn't been the kind of opposition you would expect.

"There has been some opposition from environmentalists because they're green fields, but we've used up most of the brown field space.

"As the district council has to find areas for development, some of them must be on green fields, regrettably.

"Certain employers in the town have had to go out of town to seek labour. Our businesses can't develop without having the relevant people to be employed in them and some of those people need to come from away."

Jamie Lewis, from the consortium, said it would take 15 years to build all the homes, but the first people could be living on the site by 2017.

He said the development would bring benefits to the town in the form of a relief road, school provision and a cycle link.

"It has been in the local plan, but unfortunately policy in the local plan required all of the road building to come upfront, that's what made it unviable.

"The plan the council is now having examined is much more flexible."

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