WORK on building nearly 200 new homes in Wellington can continue – but nobody will be able to live in them unless the developer secures ‘phosphate mitigation’.

CG Fry was granted outline permission in 2015 to construct the Jurston Fields development alongside Wellington Relief Road.

The site will eventually contain 650 homes, some employment units, and a community wood as it is developed in several phases.

The first two phases are nearing completion and the company wants to start the 190-home phase three, which was approved in June, 2020.

But the delivery of the new homes has been stymied by Natural England instructing local authorities that no development likely to add to the amount of phosphates draining into the Somerset Levels can be approved – even though CG Fry’s plans had been approved before the embargo was announced.

Part of the Jurston Farm housing development in Wellington.
Part of the Jurston Farm housing development in Wellington. (Tindle News)

The Levels are an internationally-important wetlands and protected by European Union environmental laws even after Brexit.

The former Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT), which was replaced last April by the unitary Somerset Council, chose to apply Natural England’s ruling retrospectively to the whole of the Jurston site.

CG Fry went to a planning inquiry in 2022 to appeal SWT’s decision but the inspector Darren McCreery ruled in the council’s favour and said an ‘appropriate assessment’ needed to be carried out before any planning application which could ‘give rise to additional phosphates’ could go ahead.

The developer then appealed the inspector’s decision but it was dismissed by the High Court in June last year and the council’s judgement was upheld.

Now, the company has been given permission to take the matter to the Court of Appeal, which is set to hear the case on March 19 and 20, with its final ruling published by late spring.

Somerset Council said construction on the Jurston Fields site could proceed while the court proceedings were ongoing.

However, if the former SWT view was upheld, none of the new homes within phase three could be occupied until the additional mitigation had been secured and the appropriate measures implemented by the developer.

A council spokesman said: “The Planning Inspectorate’s decision means that phase three of the Jurston Farm development is proceeding at risk.

“We understand that building has been proceeding on phase three, but the houses will not be able to be occupied until the conditions have been discharged.

“This is what is being held up by the need to provide nutrient mitigation, and what is being challenged in the High Court.”

Jurston Fields is one of many major developments across Somerset which have been held up by the phosphates crisis.

About 18,000 homes are believed to be have been delayed by the crisis, with the former Taunton Deane and South Somerset areas being especially affected.

Numerous solutions have been implemented to unlock small numbers of homes, from creating new wetlands, as happened with the Staplegrove urban extension in Taunton, fallowing agricultural land, providing new or upgraded waste water treatment plants, and allowing developers to purchase phosphate credits for off-site mitigation.