Forty-two upmarket retirement apartments are to be built on the site of the former Bulford medical centre, with building work starting by mid-summer. A packed and tense Taunton planning committee meeting saw councillors vote 13-1 against the officials who recommended refusal of the McCarthy & Stone development.
Wellington town clerk Greg Dyke made a fervent speech in favour of the scheme as did town councillor Dave Mitton. Other speakers convinced the committee that the overwhelming body of opinion in the town was that the site should go to residential use, not retail as zoned in the strategic plan.
Mayor Viv Stock-Williams was delighted with the decision. “I’m so pleased that Taunton Deane Borough Council Planning Committee has taken a pragmatic approach to the McCarthy & Stone development and listened to the unanimous voice of the Wellington people in coming to their decision,” she said.
“Representation by local elderly residents, Wellington Town Council and the business community in presenting a consistently reasoned argument, illustrates the overwhelming positive feeling for this development within the town. I am pleased that this 42-dwelling Later Life development, so close to the town centre, will enable residents to access the town easily and enjoy all that Wellington has to offer.Speaking to the developer’s agent after the Planning meeting, he assured me that development would begin in the summer and progress speedily.”
Planning officers who opposed the scheme in the face of local opinion took a blast from Cllr Alan Wedderkopp. “Everyone in Wellington knows what they want – except us, it seems. This council needs a stick of dynamite behind it. All I hear from officers is ‘It’s not the policy…’,” he fumed.
“We’re delighted to have a green light on this scheme, for which we’ve already had over 100 enquiries from prospective purchasers, and very much appreciate the support from the people and businesses of Wellington,” said a spokeswoman for McCarthy & Stone.