PLANS to build on a field in the centre of a Somerset town have been dropped, with the space instead to be given to the town council to turn into a public green space.

The field between Slade Road and Downside in Portishead was one of several sites across the district which North Somerset Council consulted on developing as part of its development programme, which sees the council build affordable housing on land it owns.

But after local opposition, the council will instead enter into discussions with Portishead Town Council to turn it into “an open green space in the town centre”.

Portishead’s independent councillors on North Somerset Council — Nicola Holland, Roger Whitfield, Tim Snaden, and Caritas Charles — have been in discussion with Portishead Town Council about possible uses of the field, which could include a community orchard and a pump track among other ideas.

Ms Holland commented after the meeting: “After years of talking, site visits, data gathering and consultation, the evidence has finally been accepted. Now the field, which is so important to so many of our residents for so many reasons, is safe from development.”

Ben Aldridge, chair of Portishead Town Council, added: “This is absolutely fantastic that North Somerset Council have listened to our concerns, and the amount of effort both our town and district councillors have put in to discuss the residents’ concerns around this piece of land being on the development list.

“We are therefore very appreciative that we’ve all been listened to and it’s off the development list, and we welcome and await formal discussions on the transfer of Slade Road to Portishead Town Council.”

Following the announcement by council executive member for development and commercial programme Mark Canniford at a meeting of North Somerset Council on January 9, Steve Bridger, the previous leader of North Somerset Council, said he would “fully support” a plan by the town council to turn it into a public open space, but said affordable housing should not be ruled out if the town council did not bring forward a deliverable plan within two years.

Mr Charles responded: “Portishead is not a town that just talks; Portishead is a town that does.”

He added: “We have a very clear commitment to this site as a town. It will be amazing. Come and see it when it opens.”