Bath Voice News: Major plans to build hundreds of homes on the rural southern edge of Bath will be decided within weeks

By John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporter; The Hignett Family Trust wants to build 290 homes on fields above South Stoke, just next to Odd Down. Now Bath and North East Somerset Council has set the date of November 15 to decide whether to grant planning permission for the development.

The houses would be a mix of sizes, ranging from two-bedrooms to five-bedrooms. 40% of the homes would be affordable housing, equating to 116 homes if the full 290 are built.

Locals in South Stoke slammed the plans as “utter madness” when they were announced last year. Dr Mark Baggott of the South of Bath Alliance (SOBA) said in 2022: “Bath is a world heritage site and this cannot be allowed. The green fields are popular for fresh air and exercise, as well as being important for agriculture.”

In a statement submitted with their proposal, the Hignett Family Trust described their plans as “a very high quality, sustainable, landscape-led proposal where landscape, ecology, architecture and materials combine with beautifully-designed public spaces and streets.

“The proposals will encourage sustainable lifestyles through urban design that connects people and places with the local landscape and food production and in so doing, help engender a sense of wellbeing through meaningful connections to nature.”

The proposal forms the third and fourth “phases” of the Sulis Down development.

Phase one of the project was the new development of 171 homes of Combe Hay Lane, behind Odd Down Park and Ride. It was approved “with the utmost reluctance” by councillors on Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee in 2018.

Sulis Manor and the land surrounding it is phase two of the development, but will be “developed by others.” A road connecting the proposed new development to phase one is proposed through the grounds of the 1930s manor, but no plans have yet been submitted to develop the site. Plans by Group West Ltd to demolish the building, which is currently a language school, were proposed in 2017 but withdrawn after council advice.

The whole site sits within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Bath’s World Heritage Site, but the land is allocated as a strategic allocated site for 300 homes.

Together with the homes in phase one, the Sulis Down development would exceed this and come closer to 450. But the council’s planning policies state the 300 homes figure “is not a cap” if all relevant principles are met.

The planning application will go before Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee at their meeting on November 15. The committee will meet in the Banqueting Room of the Guildhall in Bath at 11am.

You can view and comment on the application here:

Harry Mottram is the News Editor

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