Consultant hired for Gaulacre development

FOOTBALL pitches, an orchard, wetlands and a children’s play area are some of the ideas put forward for a multi-use open space in Nailsea.

The town council has been looking at options for Gaulacre, a 10-acre stretch of land at Engine Lane which it bought in 2008 for sport and recreation use.

The Times reported last month that plans for new allotments there were put on hold after the council’s Leisure Facilities Committee decided a feasibility study needed to be done for the whole site before individual projects could be looked into.

Following two presentations by companies tendering for the study at a meeting of the committee last week, members awarded the contract to Weston-based The Next Field, which has previously worked with North Somerset Council, producing data on all green spaces in the town.

The planning and management consultancy’s director Peter Wilkinson said: “The site has a lot of natural heritage and is important for wildlife and has landscape value.”

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The firm, which specialises in planning policy issues, plans to submit sketches of the various options for the committee to pick three favourites, before producing costings and organising a public consultation.

Member Mary Ponsonby expressed reservations about fitting in options such as football pitches, a pavilion, allotments and a car park, as well as screening off the area to residents of Engine Lane.

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One resident, who attended the meeting, was concerned that horses which use the fields, could damage a sports pitch and another was worried the hedges were home to bats.

Nailsea Town Clerk Ian Morrell said: “The council has no preference for its use, although allotments has been suggested, which is why the feasibility study is being commissioned.

“However, the overriding requirement is to assess what is desirable and feasible. “Assuming developments take place they will probably happen in stages so there is a need to have an overview so that the land is developed in the most effective way, with regard to underground services and drainage etc.”

Nailsea United Football Club previously commissioned a feasibility study, which concluded a scheme for pitches was unaffordable.

The land is currently being leased to a local farmer.

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