Have your say about possible development surrounding Weston Big Wood

Protesters in the field adjacent to Hollis Avenue, Portishead,

Protesters in the field adjacent to Hollis Avenue, Portishead, - Credit: Archant

Portishead Town Council is expected to throw its weight behind a campaign to protect ancient woodland in the Gordano Valley from the impact of development when the matter is discussed at a meeting next month.

Areas surrounding Weston Big Wood have been identified as potential sites to build more homes, despite the wood being an area of special scientific interest.

Weston Big Wood © Copyright George Evans, www.geograph.org.uk/p

Weston Big Wood © Copyright George Evans, www.geograph.org.uk/p - Credit: Archant

Protection groups including Friends of North Weston, the Portishead Down Safeguarding Group, Wild Portishead and Weston-in-Gordano Parish Council have already indicated their support for a campaign.

Town council vice-chairman, Paul Gardner, said: “Many concerned residents and community groups have contacted the town council about this and we will be discussing the launch of a full public campaign at the July town council meeting.

Vice-chairman of Portishead Town Council, Paul Gardner.

Vice-chairman of Portishead Town Council, Paul Gardner. - Credit: Lily Newton-Browne

"Weston Big Wood is an ancient woodland; that doesn’t mean it is full of old trees, it has been a woodland since the Ice Age and is an area of huge historical and environmental importance.


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"Development of the land around the wood will degrade and eventually destroy it with a severe negative impact on local wildlife and biodiversity.”

In an online video, former councillor and local wildlife enthusiast Peter Burden says areas around Weston Big Wood were explored as possible housing sites as early as 1976.

An entrance to Weston Big Wood in Valley Road.

An entrance to Weston Big Wood in Valley Road. - Credit: Google Street View

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The threat of building on the sites has never been greater since landowners declared an interest in selling fields adjacent to the wood in the North Weston and Tower Farm areas earlier this year.

The news comes as central government has given North Somerset Council a housing target to build more than 1,300 houses every year for the next 15 years. In line with legislation, the authority put out a call for sites, asking landowners if they wanted to sell their land. As a result, a number of landowners with land encircling Weston Big Wood have expressed interest in selling for development.

No formal planning application has yet been submitted, however, in May drilling took place on the fields next to the Clevedon Road, in North Weston, to explore any possible drainage issues. Local residents say they see this work as a sign of intent to develop.

Paul added: “We need to know what the people of Portishead think about the possibility of development in these areas. Anyone wanting to find out more or get involved in saving the area from development can email savewestonbigwood@gmail.com or write to the town council at the Folk Hall.”

Folk Hall - home to Portishead Town Council

Folk Hall - home to Portishead Town Council - Credit: Archant

The matter is due to be discussed at a town council meeting on July 21 at 7.30pm.

An outdoor gathering to talk about saving Weston Big Wood and protect the land around it is expected to be organised in the next to weeks and a formal meeting about the threat is expected to take place early in September.

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