More than 25 supporters of Congresbury Residents Action Group (CRAG) turned up for the official hearing into the Strongvox scheme to build 24 houses on land off Brinsea Road. The hearing at the Royal Hotel, Weston, also drew members of the village Parish Council and district councillor Tom Leimdorfer.

Planning Inspector Gareth Thomas heard from North Somerset Council the reasons why the scheme had been refused planning permission. The council barrister, Peter Wadsley said the scheme would change the character of the approach to the village.

He referred the inspector to the decision in the case of Barratts, who had wanted to build a housing estate on the opposite side of Brinsea Road. As well as landscape issues, that scheme had been turned down because of its distance from village amenities, the unpleasant nature of walking along Brinsea Road and the close proximity of HGVs.

For CRAG, Dr Moya Wilson pointed out that lorries had already to be careful when passing each other. By reducing the width of the carriageway to accommodate a pavement, there was not enough room for lorries pass without mounting any new pavement.

Several witnesses attested to the hazards of cycling along Brinsea Road within the village, where there is a 30mph speed limit. Access to the proposed site was on that part of the road where motorists often accelerate to much higher speeds.

After hearing more evidence from local people on the damage such a scheme would have on the environment, with particular reference to Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats, Mr Thomas closed the hearing and went to see the site for himself. He is expected to deliver his decision within six weeks.

John Mills