Last month saw Yeovil Town's application to build a Food Store on land at Huish Park pass through its one year anniversary. The application was lodged to South Somerset District Council on January 31st 2012 with an initial target for the plans to be assessed at the start of May 2012, but the club have requested a number of delays before SSDC councillors can formally assess the application.
Updates on the project have largely thinned out since that original May 2012 target date, with the last significant movement coming last September when the club's planning representatives MWA wrote to SSDC requesting a second delay in the application process. Objections to the plans have been numerous, but the most obvious and fundamental appeared to be the lack of replacement training pitches and the lack of replacement community facilities, which went against national and local planning policies respectively. Case Officer Andy Cato has noted the lack of progress in resolving this and at the end of last month wrote to MWA saying:
"It's been quite a while since I have heard from you (MWA) and wonder if you have any news on your client's proposals in respect of the open space and replacement pitch provision further to your last email dated 5th September 2012."
Included in the email are more concerns raised by the Somerset County Highway Authority, in a report issued by Carl Brinkman, their Principal Planning Liaison Officer. Mr Brinkman highlights in his report that "there are still a significant number of areas of concern and unless these are addressed satisfactorily I would have no alternative but to recommend refusal of the application."
Mr Brinkman says his department disagree with the methods used by the club's representatives to perform a Transport Assessment, pointing out that Traffic Data used dates from 2007, rather than using the more up to date 2011 data that SCC have made available. They also feel the club has over-estimated the number of parking spaces that would be available for the Food Store, believing that the space available would allow for 325 vehicles, rather than the 450 quoted on the application.
The Highway Authority have also pointed our confusion over the club's wish to place a roundabout at the junction of Western Avenue with Copse Road, pointing out that this does not appear on the submitted plans, although two different proposals are mentioned elsewhere in the application. However, there are concerns even if that is introduced into the plans, with Mr Brinkman pointing out that the current junction is currently accident-free and he'd like to keep it that way:
"The introduction of a roundabout may introduce accidents at this location unless all aspects are carefully considered. There are concerns that the increased volume of traffic turning right into Copse Road may lead to conflict particularly during the weekday PM peak. Currently, there are no accidents at this junction. The introduction of a roundabout may introduce accidents at this location unless all aspects are carefully considered. Non motorised users are particularly vulnerable and provision must be made so that both pedestrians and cyclists can safely negotiate the roundabout without coming in to conflict with motorised vehicles."
In addition to the missing roundabout, the plans had identified additional bus stops and shelters that would be provided on both roads, yet these are not visible on the existing plans. The Highway Authority have also questioned the turning circle that Goods Vehicles will have both on the Food Store site and on the highways to ensure that the larger vehicles can cope with the planned changes.
As far as the SSDC Planning Website is concerned, Mark Wood of MWA has yet to respond to this latest criticism of the application. However, he has told this week's Western Gazette that he plans to set up a meeting to discuss the situation:
"Our transport consultant, Richard Parker, is in contact with Mr Brinkman and we hope a meeting will be held in the near future to discuss the requirement for additional information. We are planning to provide the additional information once we have understood precisely what is required."
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