North Somerset Council to reduce Old Mill Road housing numbers after Portishead petition?


- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Plans to allow 100 homes to be built in a industrial part of Portishead will be scrapped from North Somerset Council’s long-term plan, according to one of the authority’s executive members, after hundreds of protestors signed up to an online campaign,

Campaigners Jane Lewis (Fitness Hub), Andy Wilkinson (A Dog's Day Out), Amy Schools and owner Claire

Campaigners Jane Lewis (Fitness Hub), Andy Wilkinson (A Dog's Day Out), Amy Schools and owner Claire Cleeves (Fitness Hub), Phil Ford (Ryan's Rentals), Ryan Peake (Ryan's Group of Companies) and Patrick Gardner (T&G's Woodware). - Credit: Archant

Old Mill Road had been earmarked for extensive housing development in the authority’s most recent draft sites allocation plan, which outlines where homes can be built until 2026.

However, the idea prompted outrage from Portishead business owners and shoppers and therefore the council appears set to backtrack and allow a 20-home development, plus businesses, to be built at the site – as originally outlined in the first sites allocation plan drawn up.

The online petition was launched on October 17 and achieved more than 1,000 signatures in its first 48 hours. The number has since climbed to more than 1,850.

The draft sites allocation plan, including the 100-home development, was noted by the council’s executive on October 18, despite business owners and Portishead councillor Reyna Knight raising concerns about the scheme.

Cllr Pasley, who is on the executive, said raising the planned number of homes from 20 to 100 would have been ‘ridiculous’.

He added: “I said I didn’t agree with what was going into the plan as I thought it would be ludicrous that a successful employment site in Old Mill Road, which is one of the few we have in Portishead, should be closed down to make way for houses.”

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In light of the concerns, he said the council will reduce the number of homes earmarked for Old Mill Road in its site allocation plan.

But Cllr Knight and Cllr Peter Burden have urged the council to follow through with the planning officer’s suggestion to reduce housing numbers, amid concerns the change is not yet written in black and white and signed off.

Petition co-organiser Ryan Peake, said: “If we can remove the proposal to build 100 homes on Old Mill Road we will have won a small battle.

“We will then need to look at saving the industry and commercial units that offer local jobs for local people, while offering skills training and developing economic growth in the local community.”

Even if the council drops 100 homes at Old Mill Road from the plan, it would not stop the landowner applying for permission to demolish the business units and build homes. It does however make it more unlikely that North Somerset will accept any such appeal.

As reported by the Times last week, the same landowner has also written to the council to express willingness to flatten Wyndham Way Retail Park several years down the line and build homes, although this has not received any formal backing from councillors or officers.

In an online poll, 86 per cent of responders said Portishead had a greater need for businesses than housing.