Bath Voice News: crunch day approaches as the Hignett Family Trust bids to build 290 homes on Sulis Down as residents up the anti and plan more protests at the Guildhall

By John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporter: Bath locals are set to take to the streets over plans to build almost 300 homes on fields on the southern edge of the city.

The Hignett Family Trust want to build 290 homes as the third and fourth “phases” of its 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.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee is set to meet to decide the plans next week. Now the South of Bath Alliance — which has been leading the campaign against the development — is planning to hold a protest outside the Guildhall before the meeting and is urging councillors to turn the plans down.

The campaign says the development will cause the loss of “vital precious green space, loved, used and valued by many.” They also claim that the “very special circumstances” required to build in an area of outstanding natural beauty have not been met.

Chair of the South of Bath Alliance, Colin Webb said: “I think really they have to stop and think very hard at this planning meeting because they could be making a very bad decision.”

He said that the city needed new houses, but that new developments needed to have a centre with shops and community facilities, and have links to the rest of the city without people needing to rely on cars. Mr Webb warned that the planned development had neither of these.

Locals have warned the plans could cause “carmageddon,” putting more pressure on the Odd Down Park and Ride roundabout which is infamous among commuters for its long tailbacks during rush hour. The council’s planning committee was supposed to decide whether to grant planning permission in November, but sent the plans back to developers as they said they did not have enough information about the impact on the roads.

Now the Hignett Family Trust has submitted an analysis of the impact on the traffic, but so has a consultancy commissioned by two parish councils opposed to the development. Highways officers at the council said the impacts on the traffic were not severe enough to change their stance of recommending the plans be approved.

The plans have been hugely controversial. When it first went before the planning committee in November, over 1,200 people had submitted objections on the council’s planning portal. Now another 295 objections have been submitted and just four comments in support.

But the plans will also provide a huge amount of much-needed affordable housing in the city. Thousands of people are on the waiting list for such homes and 40% of those built at Sulis Down would be affordable. Testimonies from people living in homes in the first phase of the development said they had been “over the moon” to finally get a place of their own.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee are now expected to decide whether to grant planning permission at their meeting on Wednesday April 10 in the Guildhall in Bath.

The application is set to be discussed at 2pm. Protestors plan to be outside from 1.30pm.

Bath Voice and Local Democracy Reporters

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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