Bath Voice News: Victory for the Sulis Down campaigners as the Council rejects the Hignett Family Trust’s application (who miss out on a cool £100 million plus development)

By John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporter: Campaigners against plans to build hundreds of homes on fields on the southern edge of Bath have celebrated as local councillors quashed the plan — but now the council could have to fight an appeal from the developers.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee voted 7-1 to refuse planning permission for the Hignett Family Trust’s plans to build 290 homes — 40% of which would have been affordable — on the plateau next to Odd Down Park and Ride, to just west of South Stoke.

Phot by John Wimperis of the Guildhall debate

Over 1,200 objections to the plan were submitted on the council’s planning portal and locals showed up in force to protest outside Bath Guildhall and watch the committee — which had to be held in a ballroom next door to the council chamber to accommodate the numbers.

Councillors on the committee said the plan had some benefits such as the high amount of affordable homes, but raised concerns on a number of issues including a lack of community facilities and the impact on traffic. Shaun Hughes (Midsomer Norton North, Independent) said: “We need to be building communities, not just housing estates.”

The fields had been taken out of the green belt and allocated for housing in 2014. Councillors warned that — together with the 171 homes that had already been built on one field in the first phase of the development — the number of houses built would exceed the 300 it was allocated for, but the council’s planning experts said the figure was not a cap.

Chair of the planning committee Duncan Hounsell (Saltford, Liberal Democrat) reminded councillors that the “Big Brother” planning inspectorate was watching, and the council could face a costly appeal if they were found to have turned down the plans for the wrong reasons.

But after three and a half hours spent discussing the development, he was the only councillor to vote against refusing the plan.

Ned Garnett of the South of Bath Alliance who campaigned against the development said he was “delighted” with the decision. He said: “The planning committee has listened to the arguments and the very strong feelings of the community.”

He added: “It’s likely to go to appeal so the fight goes on.”

Photo by Julie Ingerfield

Julie Ingerfield from Bloomfield said ‘it was really something’ to have achieved the victory. Delighted with the outcome she said: “A damp and windy day did not deter the members and friends of the South of Bath Alliance from coming out for a protest ahead of the expected Planning Committee decision on the housing development at Sulis Meadow, Southstoke. With an estimated 100 plus attending the orderly and dignified protest with close to 200 in the packed Banqueting Hall for the hearing which was delayed while extra seating was arranged.”

Photo by Julie Ingerfield

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