Farmland in Bridgwater will gradually be released to provide new housing under a new agreement with Somerset County Council, writes Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter.

Sandpits Farm lies between Bower Lane and the M5 in Bridgwater – part of a wider area identified within Sedgemoor District Council’s Local Plan to deliver hundreds of new homes over the next decade.

The county council, which owns the farmhouse and the surrounding land, has entered into an agreement with a land promoter to sell off sections of the site as new plans for homes come forward.

Part of the site will also be safeguarded to deliver a new primary school to serve the residents of the proposed new homes.

The district council’s Local Plan allocated the land south of the A39 Bath Road and either side of the A372 Westonzoyland Road to deliver up to 1,200 homes by 2032.

This allocation includes the expectation that a new primary school will be delivered, and that a new spine road between the A39 and A372 be constructed with Bower Lane becoming closed to traffic.

The council approved plans for the first 260 homes within the allocated site in April, which will include the first section of the spine road.

At the northern end of the site (near the community hospital and minor injuries unit), the county council recently completed construction of the £23million Polden Bower School, providing 160 places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Under the new agreement, the council will sell the farm buildings and gradually sell the farmland to developers as planning applications for different sections of the site come forward.

Strategic estates manager Charlie Field said the agreement was part of a wider policy to get the best value out of the council’s existing assets.

He said: “The current council policy is to sell the buildings on the farm estate, reducing revenue maintenance costs, retaining such land considered of strategic value until it can be optimised.

“Sandpits Farm in Bridgwater is allocated as development land for housing development. On part of the site, our new Polden Bower school has been constructed.

“The remaining site needs to be brought forward to be developed in conjunction with neighbouring land.

“To this end, we will enter into a promotion agreement to develop the whole allocation with the promoter that has control over the remaining allocation and sell parcels as development opportunities occur whilst safeguarding a site for a new primary school.”

The county council has not revealed how much it expects to earn from this agreement, citing commercial sensitivity.

Plans for 560 homes to the south of the A372 were submitted to the district council in April – which, if approved, would include a new roundabout to link the new spine road to the existing road network.

A decision on these plans is expected before the end of the year.