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Housing development on unstable clifftop is rejected

Becky Collier
By Becky Collier
11th January 2023

The scheme for 136 homes on a clifftop would have caused instability problems and been harmful to the landscape.

CPRE Somerset has campaigned for over a year to stop a large proposed housing development on top of Cleeve Hill, Watchet. Cleeve Hill is a special landscape feature which overlooks this small historic seaside town and harbour on the West Somerset coast.

We were pleased that the scheme was rejected unanimously in January 2022 by Somerset West and Taunton District Council. We attended the planning committee and spoke against the scheme, as did many local residents.

The site was allocated for housing in the Local Plan so this is a significant victory.  Expert evidence has shown that the site overlies a geologically soft and heavily faulted sub-surface. The extra weight of houses and cars will have had unknown consequences in this clifftop location.

We felt that the housing would damage the local landscape. The Council’s Conservation Officer agreed with us that it would harm the rural setting of Watchet’s conservation area.  It would also harm the settings of a Grade 1 listed church, and Daws Castle, a clifftop fortress founded by King Alfred to defend the people of Watchet against Viking attacks.

CPRE Somerset will keep lobbying for this site to be removed from the emerging development plan for the new Unitary Authority.

We believe it would be better to develop the vacant Wansborough papermill site in Watchet.  It is infinitely better to reuse a brownfield site than to destroy greenfield land.

Find out more about how much brownfield land is available in Somerset

a group pf people protesting
Protestors attending the planning meeting at Somerset West & Taunton Council Alain Lockyer, Somerset Photo News