Agenda item

Planning Application 19/00564/DPO - Moorlands Farm, Broadway, Merriott


Application Proposal: Application to vary Section 106 Agreement dated 27 March 2013 between South Somerset District Council and Clipper Development Partners LLP in relation to removing provision for GP surgery and pharmacy


The Specialist – Development Management explained that the application related to land at the former Moorlands Farm, Merriott.  He reminded members that planning permission was granted in March 2013 for a mix of 24 residential units comprising both conversion and new build dwellings, and a GP surgery and pharmacy.  The DPO (Discharge/Variation of Planning Obligation) application was seeking consent to remove Paragraph 7 of the legal agreement which prevented the construction of any other buildings on the medical centre/pharmacy plot of land for a period of 10 years.  The Specialist – Development Management advised that the residential element of the scheme was nearing completion with most of the units now occupied but the medical centre had not been developed.  He referred to the changes in GP provision, recruitment and accessibility to GP’s and advised that the retention and recruitment of GPs was a national issue.  He was not aware of any interest shown in progressing the project in Merriott and was therefore recommending that the DPO application be agreed as it was unlikely that a medical centre would be developed on the site within the 10 years set aside for the plot. 


In response to questions from Members, the Specialist – Development Management confirmed:


·         He was not aware of any ongoing discussions taking place to deliver the project in Merriott.

·         Members needed to consider whether the legal agreement still served a useful purpose.

·         With regard to the covenant on the land, the developer has tried very hard to negotiate the matter however it was a separate issue to the planning process.


The Committee was addressed by the Parish Council representative and a member of the public in objection to the application.  Their comments included:


·         The legal agreement should still stand until the agreed date.

·         Restricted covenant still has 3 ½ years left to run.

·         The Parish Council have been in communication with NHS England, the Clinical Commissioning Group, the local pharmacist and the Ward Member about progressing a scheme.

·         Somerset has been allocated a post under the NHS England enhancement recruitment scheme in a drive to try and increase GPs.

·         An enhanced pharmacy for Merriott would be an alternative.

·         Land should remain as a benefit to the community.

·         Increase in housing in Merriott in the coming year.

·         Increasingly difficult to book a doctor’s appointments at other surgeries.

·         Poor public transport making it difficult for people to access surgeries.


The Committee was then addressed by a member of the public in support of the application.  Comments raised related to the following:


·         Difficulties in recruiting GPs/nurses

·         Not enough parking spaces provided for the centre

·         Not feasible in this area

·         Lack of funding


The Applicant advised that he had received an email from the owners of the land, stating that lines of communication regarding the proposed surgery/pharmacy have always been open but there had been no take up for the project.  He advised that the holder of the covenant had submitted his support for the application.


Ward Member, Councillor Paul Maxwell commented that the main reason the original application was approved was on the basis of the doctors surgery and pharmacy being provided.  The project had been an aspiration for the village for many years.  He advised there were a number of ongoing meetings being held to try and progress a project.  He was of the view that there were still several years left for a project to come forward and the S106 agreement should be kept in place until the expiry date as a scheme could still happen.


During the discussion, members made the following comments:


·         The principal reason for approving the application was the supply of the doctors surgery and pharmacy and the housing was secondary.

·         Crewkerne surgery was already under pressure.

·         Merriott was a significant size village and still growing.

·         The agreement still had 3 ½ years left to run.

·         Government funding and priorities was always changing.

·         Curtailing the agreement early was not in the best interest of Merriott.

·         Developers should be encouraged to stick to the S106 agreements first made.


It was proposed and seconded to refuse the Specialist – Development Management’s recommendation and to keep the S106 Agreement in place.  On being put to the vote this was unanimously agreed.



That the requirement of Paragraph 7 of Schedule 1, Part 1, of the Section 106 Agreement dated 27th March 2013, in relation to the doctors surgery and/or pharmacy plot, is still considered to serve a useful purpose. The DPO application is therefore refused.


(Voting: unanimous)


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