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Bridgwater 'prison' style flats get planning approval

image copyrightQuattro Architects
image captionThe proposed development will replace Bridgwater's Penlea House

A block of flats described as "a prison" and "a monstrosity" has been approved despite local objections.

The four-storey building will replace Bridgwater's 19th Century Penlea House, which is to be demolished.

Earlier, the plans were approved by the Conservative-led Sedgemoor District Council despite concerns from locals and some of its own councillors.

Conservative Alistair Hendry said: "There's a huge need around the town for social housing."

One resident said the flats would "tower over" existing properties.

Penlea House, once the main building on a country estate, had been used by Sedgemoor District Council as council accommodation.

The council secured permission in 2018 to demolish it and build three two-storey blocks but submitted plans for the new taller block in June last year .

'Tower' over existing homes

More than 50 people wrote to the council to object and a petition against the development was signed by more than 100 people.

Garrie Wynn, who has lived on nearby Penlea Avenue all his life, said the new flats would have a negative impact on existing homeowners because of "their sheer size".

Bridgwater Town Council also objected, saying the flats would "not reflect the local characteristic of the surrounding area".

image copyrightGoogle
image captionThe current entrance to the Penlea House site

When Sedgemoor District Council's Development Committee met on Tuesday to discuss the application, Labour member Li Gibson said: "I think it looks a bit like a prison.

"Why did it move from the two-storey design to this massive development?"

Fellow Labour councillor Leigh Redman, whose ward includes Penlea House, said local residents were happy with the original plans but the latest proposal was "a monstrosity".

"Pictures do not do this huge development justice," he added.

Conservative councillor Stuart Kingham said the flats would provide "modern living" for council tenants.

The committee approved the plans by 10 votes to five on the condition that 30% of the homes were affordable housing.

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Related Topics

  • Bridgwater
  • Sedgemoor District Council

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