Owners look to sell farm land

THE owners of 93 acres of open farmland to the south of Nailsea have put forward shock proposals indicating they want to sell it for development.

The revelation has left community leaders feeling aggrieved with town council chairman Rod Lees saying the plans could ‘change Nailsea as we know it’.

The land surrounding Youngwood Lane from Morgans Hill to Backwell Lake, has been earmarked by development firm, Gleeson, as an area that could be built on.

In February, the company was approached by an agent acting for a group of land owners called the South Nailsea Landowners’ Group to promote the land for development.

At the end of August a submission was then made by the group as part of a consultation on the new North Somerset Core Strategy - a document which will shape planning application decisions for the next 15 years - which invited people to suggest areas of land that could be developed in the future.

At a meeting of Nailsea Town Council on August 31 chairman Rod Lees said: “We feel aggrieved by this.

“We are talking about the possibility of whole scale development between the station and Netherton Wood Lane.

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“It would change the whole nature of our town as we know it.

“We would end up losing one town or village as Nailsea and Backwell would be joined.”

Nailsea Town Council has worked for the past five years to build swathes of evidence for its submission to the Core Strategy and to show why the land to the south of the town, which is currently classed as white land, should be turned to green belt to protect it from development.

However, North Somerset Council has said it does not intend to alter the green belt.

Cllr James Tonkin said: “North Somerset Council has never filed any evidence to support their views on the green belt.

“By a carte blanche refusal to discuss any adjustment to the green belt their views are fundamentally flawed.”

North Somerset councillor Jan Barber said the unitary authority’s planning officers have assured her the white land status is enough to protect the area from development.

However, if the area of land is accepted into the Core Strategy as potential for development, Gleeson may then look to submit a planning application to develop the site.

Ruth Hopkins of Gleeson said: “The land owners can see there is potential there.

“We look at areas that could be developed in maybe 20 or five years time. This will not be something that happens in a year.”

The Core Strategy will set out future objectives, strategies and policies for conservation and development in the district until 2026.

North Somerset Council’s proposals for the strategy, along with all consultation responses, have been handed to a planning inspector who will examine them in November. He will then make recommendations which North Somerset Council will have to abide by.

For more than 20 years, different developers have looked into building on the land north and south of Youngwood Lane.

In the 1980s, plans were submitted to build more than 4,000 houses on the land. However, a fierce campaign by residents prevented anything going ahead.

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