PLANS to develop a Grade II listed former Wellington care home have been blasted as only benefitting “the rich and famous” as anger among residents mounts.

Popham Court could become a housing estate just off the town centre if plans submitted to Somerset Council are approved. Roger David, who lives near the site, said he felt it was a ‘diabolical plan’ which would ‘ruin the town.’

Mr David said he felt the proposed new builds and converted homes would not alleviate pressure on housing, because they would only benefit “the rich and famous.”

Mr David spoke out after being contacted by the Popham Planning Objection Group (PPOP), a group of concerned local residents who want to block the development.

Speaking to the Wellington Weekly, a spokesperson for the residents’ group said the proposals would have a negative impact on the wellbeing of local people. In a statement they said: “PPOG has formed to object to the current development plans submitted for Popham Court, a listed site opposite our award-winning park. The plan to use Court Drive as the only vehicle access route is simply not acceptable for many, especially those who already live there.

“Court Drive is narrow, single track and only partially paved. It needs resurfacing and the double yellow lines need re-painting. Currently the essential dropped kerbs are often parked against meaning those who use wheelchairs have no choice but to use the road.

“Court Drive is also one of the main thoroughfares for children walking to Court Fields school, Beech Grove school, the park, recreation ground and tennis courts so in our opinion is entirely unsuitable.”

The Wellington Weekly has also heard impassioned pleas from residents who fear development would undermine the historic site’s heritage value. Wellington resident Rowena Marrow wrote to the town council to tell them of the site’s illustrious history as a mansion house for a former speak of The House of Commons in the 16th century.

In a letter Ms Marrow told councillors: “The area is too historic to have modern housing built. The Court is likely to have been a part of the Mansion house that Sir John Popham had built while he was living in the Old Court.

“I also question the comment that 29 cars and if they are 2 car homes, 58 cars won’t make a difference down Courtland Road. 

“How soon will it be before one of the young people from Courtfields School or Beech Grove School are seriously injured in an accident when leaving school to go home.”

Responding to the complaints, Bradley Ford, director of Gadd Properties, which is looking to develop the site, said: “We made the decision to introduce a pedestrian only access point from Courtland road, to reduce the traffic flow.

“There was already a reasonable amount of traffic flow from Court Drive and our highways consultants have shown that the development will only increase this by one additional movement approximately every 7 to 8 minutes.

“This is unlikely to be perceptible to road users, and would certainly not result in a severe impact. In addition, the site is in a highly sustainable location, with a significant number of local amenities within a safe and convenient walking and cycling distance.

“Our development proposals offer a potential for enhancing the significance of The Court, principally through the demolition of incongruous modern structures and additions and works to improve the integrity of the historic fabric and form.

“Converting the listed building back into residential flats will provide a much needed new lease of life on a property that has otherwise been left to deteriorate and will ensure its historical significance is preserved and maintained for years to come.”

Responding to concerns over affordability Mr Ford said the site mix is 9 x 2 bedroom flats, 4 x 2 bed houses, 12 x 3 bed houses and 2 x 4 bed houses.

He added: “Our comprehensive approach ensures that the housing on this site will be priced affordably and reflects our belief in the importance of providing accessible and sustainable housing, making a positive impact on the lives of those seeking quality homes in the community.”