M5 gas station near Bridgwater – the latest news on new plans


A decision on plans for a new petrol station on the M5 near Bridgwater has been postponed until a site visit can take place.

JLL, on behalf of landowner S Notaro Land Ltd, submitted plans in January 2019 to construct the facility and other commercial buildings on 85 acres of land east of Junction 24.

The Sedgemoor District Council Development Committee met virtually on Tuesday morning (August 4) to make a decision on the plans, which proved controversial with residents.

But a decision has now been pushed back to allow advisers to visit the site after concerns were raised over the loss of farmland and the impact on the hamlet of Huntworth.

Gavin Houlgate, who has lived in the hamlet for 25 years, said: “Most people can accept that this has been designated for employment purposes – what they cannot accept is the scale of the development. We will be overwhelmed by industrial buildings.

“By any reasonable estimate, building on 85 acres of farmland and generating thousands of additional car trips cannot be considered sustainable.

“You don’t have an integrated plan in place with other authorities to tackle climate change. With COVID-19 now rampant, the future may not be business as usual. “

The council declared a climate emergency in March 2019 and worked with Somerset County Council and the other three district councils on a joint strategy to tackle climate change – but this has been delayed by the coronavirus crisis.

Chris Dadds, representing the claimant, said the increase in “stay-cations” as a result of the pandemic would lead to increased demand for these facilities.

What would new services look like if they were approved

He said: “The world has of course changed over the past few months, but it has heightened the need for local services. “

Neither County Council (which is responsible for Somerset’s road network) nor Highways England (which maintains the M5) have opposed the plans.

Councilor Bill Revans (whose North Petherton neighborhood includes the site) said the development “would have a huge impact” on the environment and neighboring properties.

For news tailored to your region, powered by In your region:

He said: “The business model for this site is to encourage the use of fossil fuels – so it is against our planning policy and our declaration of a climate change emergency.”

Councilor Kathy Pearce said the development would “totally overwhelm” Huntworth, and that the offer of a cycle link between the development and the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal was “a red herring”.

She added: “There are already two motorway service stations in Sedgemoor – admittedly the one near Huntworth does not have the best reputation, but if it is a service station why not. to do on the existing footprint?

Councilor Alan Bradford, however, argued that providing a new gas station would actually alleviate Bridgwater’s traffic problems rather than make them worse.

He said: “Twenty-five years ago people were worried about developing this area – and that’s why highway services ended up being where they are.

“The introduction of these new services will reduce congestion on the other end, making it easier for residents of Willstock and Stockmoor.”

Councilor Stuart Kingham added: “If you travel along the M5 you see these kinds of industrial areas popping up everywhere – it’s a good corridor for these kinds of places to build.

“People walk past the Morrisons building [near Junction 23] and they don’t pay much attention. Services would be much better than what already exists, and this will facilitate traffic to Bridgwater and out of the A38.

Several advisers have called for a decision on the plans to be postponed until a site visit can be arranged, with appropriate social distancing in place.

Councilor Liz Perry argued, “We have to see how much farmland we are actually losing. “

The committee voted to postpone a decision until a site visit was carried out by eight votes to five, with no abstentions.

The date of the site visit has not yet been confirmed, although plans are likely to return to the committee in a few months.

If the plans are ultimately approved, Ms de Vries confirmed the decision would be subject to appeal by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP.


Comments are closed.