Big expansion of village would make it a Bristol suburb, says campaigner

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:30 30 July 2019

Backwell Resistance member Lorraine Hopkinson Parker.

Backwell Resistance member Lorraine Hopkinson Parker.

Archant

Campaigners are seeking cash to hire a team of experts to try to halt housing plans which they believe would 'decimate' their village.

The Backwell Resistance wants to raise £7,500 to help with paying for the cost of hiring experts in planning, wildlife and ecology to represent Backwell at Government hearings to discuss plans which would see 700 homes built in the village.

The proposal is part of the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) which was drawn up by North Somerset Council and neighbouring authorities to outline where homes could be built across the West of England.

The plan for North Somerset includes 2,575 homes for Nailsea and 700 for Backwell, among other areas.

Group founder, Lorraine Hopkinson-Parker, said: "As Backwell has never faced such a major threat before, we felt it was really important to have the best people representing the interests of the village.

"The developers, who have huge amounts of money will be represented at these hearings and it seems completely unfair that small parish councils, like Backwell, and the residents association, who don't have infinite funds, would have to try to find the money for this representation.

"Villagers have already demonstrated how strongly they feel about the proposals for Backwell, so we felt sure people would be happy to chip in."

The JSP hearings, which begain in Bath this month, will continue in the autumn but a final decision is not expected until next year.

Ms Hopkinson-Parker said: "The proposed 700 houses on a single housing estate, would increase Backwell's population by almost 40 per cent. That is massive.

"Together with the proposed link roads next to Backwell Lake and across Backwell Common and the park and ride at the train station, would almost certainly see Backwell become just a suburb of Bristol and a transport hub.

"Our campaign has so far ensured that Backwell has a seat at the table, otherwise it (the plan) may all have just been rubber-stamped.

"Backwell has been well represented in the first round of hearings, which have just ended, and I understand North Somerset Council faced some very challenging questions from the Government inspectors.

"However, we can't be complacent, which is why we must ensure we have the necessary funds in place for the next round of hearings in September."

Areas close to Banwell and Churchill are also earmarked for thousands of houses through the JSP, which seeks to allow about 105,000 homes to be constructed across the West of England by 2036.

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