Plans for a major new business park hoped to create hundreds of jobs have been given the go ahead by planning officials.

A £35 million development said to create 230 jobs is now set to be built on a 9.4 acre site on the West Buckland side of the Chelston roundabout, toward the M5 motorway.

But the approval has proved controversial, with complaints from some quarters that Wellington councillors were not consulted about the plans.

The plans were put in by Chelston Heath LLP, a Taunton based firm which owns a number of light industrial sites.

They have now been given permission for two restaurants, electric vehicle charging points, and business units for industrial as well as service use.

Acting for Chelston Health, planning agents Tetra Tech said the new development would create jobs and drive investment to the area. In a statement they said:

"The development will make a significant contribution to local job creation. The proposed development is forecast to generate about 236 new full time equivalent new jobs once operational. This will be in addition to jobs safeguarded/created during construction and in the construction supply chain.

"It also represents a major inward economic investment into the economy of Wellington and SWT. There will be significant benefits from the construction and operational phases of this site."

West Buckland parish council lodged no formal objections to the plans, though raised some concern over increased traffic at the Chelston roundabout.

But concern has been raised that consultations did not go far enough. Permission for the development was granted by planning officers without going before the County Council's planning committee, and Wellington Town Council were not asked for their view despite the fact the scheme will impact on the town.

The development was able to bypass scrutiny by councillors after the chairman of the planning committee, Simon Coles, chose to hand the decision making power to unelected planning officers.

In a statement a spokesperson for Somerset Council said: "The application was determined in accordance with the scheme of delegation under the former Somerset West and Taunton District Council.

"As there was no objection from the Parish Council, who’s administrative boundary this application falls within, but some from members of the public, the application was referred to the Chair of the planning committee to decide whether he wished to call it in for planning committee determination or was happy for it to be determined under officer delegated powers.

"He did not call it into committee and was happy for it to be determined under officer delegated powers, as per the officer’s recommendation of approval, subject to a legal agreement and conditions.

"The statutory consultation requirements were met in consulting with West Buckland Parish Council, who are the relevant parish council for the application site. The application was also advertised in the local paper by the weekly lists, on the Council’s website, site notices and through neighbour notification letters."

The move came in for harsh criticism from former County Councillor and current Town Cllr John Thorne. He said there was 'no excuse' for local councillors being ignored:

"It is extremely disappointing that when we have such a major application with the clear potential impact on trade in the town centre that Simon Coles does not want to hear what the elected representatives on the Town Council feel about the plans.

"Regrettably all the problems we had with the old district council planning department are now being perpetuated by the new unitary council and decisions are continuing to be taken which are not in the best interests of Wellington.

"There is no excuse for this because the application has been around for about two years, which is plenty of time for them to come and ask us for our views on it. But at the same time we all welcome the creation of new jobs for people who live locally."