Bath Voice News: new satellite village planned for the city with 3,000 houses for Corston Fields (as locals mount campaign to save the greenbelt and ask what about the Climate Emergency)

By John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporter: Plans to build a new village in the countryside near Bath have been met with shock from locals and from the farmers whose fields could be built on.

Corston Fields Farm is one of the UK’s first zero carbon farms. Located between Burnett and Corston, the farm is known for its wine and local quinoa, and has won the Duchy of Cornwall’s Habitat Award Scheme for its commitment to diversifying and adopting sustainable farming methods.

More detailed map of the proposed site, covering most of Corston Fields Farm (Image: Burnett & Corston Protection Alliance)

But now Bath and North East Somerset Council ’s consultation on the options to include in its new local plan, has identified the farm and the surrounding area south of Burnett, just north of the Two Headed Man junction, as a “potential site” for new development. The council said it had no immediate plans for building on the area but, if included in the local plan, it could open the doors for homes to be built.

The proposal on the council website stated: “As it is some distance away from any reasonably sized communities, it would need to be of sufficient scale to provide day-to-day services such as a primary school and local shops.”

Locals fear the plans could lead to 3,000 homes being built across the fields. Local man Richard Arthur said: “3,000 houses may not seem a lot but the area is huge — bigger than all of Saltford. Apart from the destruction of heritage green belt, unacceptable volumes of traffic will be added to roads which are at capacity and very dangerous.

Members of the Burnett & Corston Protection Alliance meet at the Wheatsheaf Pub in Corston to discuss ways to oppose B&NES housing development plans 

“Use up all brown field and industrial sites, and keep the green belt green!”

Caroline Lucas, who also lives in the area, added: “B&NES has declared a climate and ecological emergency yet they’re now encouraging the loss of vital countryside and the destruction of wildlife habitats. This is our shared countryside, and my husband and I are furious!”

Gerald Addicott, who has farmed the land for over 40 years, said: “Approaching from the west on the A39, the first sight you get of Bath, lined in a newly-planted avenue of trees, is exactly the area where this development is proposed!

“It’s green belt, beautiful farmland and it will be gone forever. It’s also home to RSPB critically endangered species. What are B&NES thinking?”

Locals have launched a campaign against the plans (Image: Burnett & Corston Protection Alliance) 

A local plan is prepared every 20 years and determines the planning policy by which new planning applications will be decided, and where in Bath and North East Somerset different kinds of developments are acceptable. The council has been told 14,500 new homes need to be built in the area over the 20-year period of the plan. Many of these are already planned — but the council still has to find the space for about 6,500.

The plans currently out for consultation set out the options of where these homes could go. Other options for where the houses could go include a huge northern expansion of Keynsham, an expansion of Saltford, moving the Brislington Park and Ride to accommodate a major new development straddling the border with Bristol, and for many villages in rural North East Somerset to grow by about 5% over the period of the plan.

Locals in Burnett and Corston have formed a new group — the Burnett and Corston Protection Alliance — to launch a campaign to protect their area, meeting at the Wheatsheaf pub which would be at the centre of the new village under the plans. Almost 600 people have signed a petition by the group against the proposals and the group is urging people to respond to the consultation on the local plan options. 

The alliance warned that the area is archaeologically significant, located at the base of ancient monument Stantonbury Hillfort and with the hill containing part of the mediaeval Wansdyke. As a result of Corston Fields Farm’s work on greening and wilding, the area is also a safe environment for critically endangered species such as skylarks, fieldfares, song thrushes, yellowhammers, cuckoos, newts and hares.

You can view the consultation on the local plan here:

The section on the proposed new village south of Burnett can be viewed here:

Link to petition:

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The journalists are funded by the BBC as part of its latest Charter commitment, but are employed by regional news organisations. A total of 165 reporters are allocated to news organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland including Bath Voice. These organisations range from television and radio stations to online media companies and established regional newspaper groups. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities, second-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.

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