CONTROVERSIAL plans to build houses on a sensitive heritage site in Wellington town centre have been withdrawn.

Gadd Properties Ltd wanted to demolish Popham House and redevelop The Court former care home, off Courtland Road and Court Drive, for 29 new homes.

The company bought the 2.5-acre empty 52-bed care home site during the coronavirus pandemic from the former Somerset County Council.

It put forward plans to convert the grade two listed The Court into three apartments and to level the rest of the site and build 26 detached, semi-detached, and terraced two, three, and four-bedroom houses in the grounds.

However, the scheme generated a storm of protest from local residents who complained about extra traffic on a narrow access road and a lack of parking space.

One objector to the plans, Pamela McCombie, said: “Court Drive is a narrow road leading off Mantle Street.

The Court Popham House housing planning Gadd Properties SWT Wellington
An aerial view of The Court and Popham House site, Wellington. (Greenslade Taylor Hunt)

“It is already a difficult road for pedestrians as it does not have a pavement and added traffic could cause great hazard to those who walk.”

Wellington town councillors shared the worries and also expressed concerns about the design of the new estate and recommended the application should be refused.

Engineering design, energy, and sustainability consultancy Hydrock said in a transport assessment of the site there was a wide range of daily amenities nearby in Wellington, most of which were within a comfortable walking distance.

Hydrock’s Jack Dalley said: “This means that future residents would be able to fulfil many of their daily needs without using their cars, and the site is therefore sustainable in transport terms.”

The planning application had been submitted before Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) was abolished in April.

SWT had said its planning policies required at least seven of the new homes to be ‘affordable’ but Gadd was trying to avoid the commitment by claiming a ‘vacant building credit’, although it had not provided the evidence required to show it was eligible for the credit.

Now, planning agent Stephen Baimbridge, of Greenslade Taylor Hunt, has told Somerset Council the application was being withdrawn by Gadd.

Popham House is a former home for the blind built in the 1950s, while The Court building dates to about 1840.