The green belt could be extended to protect a Somerset town which has seen a huge amount of attention by developers.

Proposals for a new stretch of green belt in between Nailsea and neighbouring village Backwell have been included in North Somerset Council’ s draft local plan. It is hoped the move will prevent new developments merging the town and village together.

Nailsea has been a major focus for developers, from major plans to build 400 homes at the southern edge of the town , to building 150 on its northern edge , and more than 50 on a popular open space in the town. Meanwhile,  a development of just over 500 homes has been proposed in Backwell.

The new local plan had been set to designate Nailsea and Backwell as a “strategic growth location” — opening the doors for the building of over 1,700 homes. An area to the east of Backwell had also been set to be removed from the green belt to facilitate more housing developments.

But the latest draft of the local plan — which is set to go before North Somerset Council’s executive on Wednesday October 18 — drops these plans. Instead of losing green belt land to developers, it sets out how a stretch of new greenbelt could be created to protect the town and village.

Backwell councillor Bridget Petty said: “I am pleased to have worked with the council to encourage the extension of the green belt between Nailsea and Backwell. This strategic gap is important to the character of both communities, and the environment between is important habitat and green space.”

She added: “Backwell residents will be really pleased to see the significant planned area east of Backwell in the green belt has been removed, as well as the scrapping of plans for a new road over Backwell Common. However, there remains a significant area of growth.

“Residents feel that having lost the long appeal of Farleigh Fields, and with the Rodney Road site in the village, there is already a plan for growth. I hope the village will continue to have great facilities to all and the public transport system we all deserve, but residents are worried about the traffic impact of a planning application on Grove Farm.”

The plans to make Nailsea and Backwell a strategic growth location were dropped after a new road connecting to the A370, which would have been needed to support the new homes, was judged to probably be “not deliverable.”

A proposal to designate Woodspring Golf Course on Yanley Lane as a strategic growth location has also been dropped. Now the planned new village at Wolvershill near Banwell will be the only new strategic growth location in the plan, for 2,800 new homes. Although not the only places where housing developments happen, strategic growth locations are places identified as key locations for large numbers of new homes.

The scaling back of these locations comes as North Somerset scales its housing target back significantly. The council currently has a housing target of 20,205 new homes over the next 15 years, but Mark Canniford, North Somerset Council’s executive member for spatial planning, placemaking and economy, said: “We believe this goes too far and would require building in green belt and village locations that is not appropriate.” Instead, a new locally-derived figure of 14,902 will be now used for the new local plan. But this still leaves the district needing to build 999 new homes a year.

The new local plan determines the framework for where development can and cannot take place across the district. Mr Canniford said: “Without a Local Plan we could end up with unplanned growth in the wrong places, with no supporting facilities. The latest version of the plan being considered next week is very much a product of all the extensive engagement and consultation work that has taken place.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has taken part and had their say to date. We’ve listened and I strongly believe that we’ve produced a local plan which helps address housing needs in sustainable locations and makes sure North Somerset continues to be a vibrant, quality place to live, work and visit.”

The council say the new local plan will support economic growth by encouraging key local employers to develop and regenerate town centres, deliver more affordable homes, avoid development in areas susceptible to flooding, protect the green belt, and create a new employment area at Junction 20 of the M5 by Clevedon.

The plan will go through a fourth and final phase of public consultation once approved by the council executive, before being submitted to examination by an independent inspector.