NEW travellers’ pitches will be created near a popular Somerset farm shop following a decision by local councillors.

The Jackman-Hughes family applied to create four new travellers’ pitches (including at least two day rooms) on a paddock behind The Gables on the A38 Wellington Road.

The site lies a stone’s throw from the Rumwell Farm Shop and within walking distance of the major Orchard Grove housing development on the western edge of Taunton.

Somerset Council’s planning committee west (which handles major applications in the former Somerset West and Taunton area) gave its unanimous backing to the plans when it met on May 1, citing a lack of permanent traveller sites in the area.

The council estimates that only 13 residential travellers’ pitches have been granted across the former district since 2013, leaving a projected shortfall of 73 pitches.

The site lies within the River Tone catchment area, meaning that additional phosphate mitigation must be secured to prevent any damage to the Somerset Levels and Moors.

To offset the impact of the pitches, a package treatment plant will be installed to process the travellers’ household waste – similar to a system agreed at a travellers’ site in Cossington (near Bridgwater), which was approved in December 2023.

South West Farmer: Somerset Council’s planning committee west gave its unanimous backing to the plans.Somerset Council’s planning committee west gave its unanimous backing to the plans. (Image: Daniel Mumby)

While the site is outside of walking distance from key amenities in both Taunton and Wellington, including schools and doctors’ surgeries, it is located near a bus stop which has regular services in each direction.

Councillor John Hunt (whose Bishop’s Hull and Taunton West division includes the site) spoke against the plans on behalf of nearly 40 local residents when the planning committee west met in Taunton to discuss the plans on May 1.

He said: “The entrance is located very close to a bend. Exiting the site will be problematic with long vehicles and caravans – it could potentially present a wall to oncoming traffic.

“In 2016, a previous application at a farm in Rumwell was withdrawn over concerns from highways, mostly linked to the A38 access. Surely this problem is even more of a concern now.”

Mr Hunt also requested that, if the plans were approved, that the existing 50mph speed limit along this section of the A38 be reduced to improve road safety.

Councillor Caroline Ellis (who represents the same division on the committee) said: “There’s a lot of people who use the Rumwell Farm Shop, and there have been a number of collisions near there. I would absolutely support reducing the speed limit.

“What weighs particularly on my mind is the lack of travellers’ sites. We’ve got a massive issue with this, and we know what happens when people rock up and decide to say whether there isn’t the infrastructure.

“We have a duty to be proactive. This is like looking a gift horse in the mouth.”

The committee took less than 20 minutes to give the plans its unanimous approval.