Village approves neighbourhood plan

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 March 2015

Backwell celebrates a 'yes' vote for its neighbourhood plan.

Backwell celebrates a 'yes' vote for its neighbourhood plan.

Archant

VILLAGERS are pinning their hopes on a new document to help battle ‘catastrophic’ proposals to build hundreds of new homes in their community.

Backwell has become the first village in North Somerset to adopt a neighbourhood plan, following a referendum on Thursday, which sets out development in the area until 2026.

Now, residents are hoping this will bolster their objections against proposals to build 340 homes on prime agricultural land outside of the village boundary.

Villagers gave overwhelming approval to the Backwell Future document as voters flocked to the village hall in their hundreds to vote in Thursday’s referendum.

A total of 1,414 – 96 per cent – voted in favour of the plan, with just 62 opting against it.

Villager leaders were also delighted with a 41 per cent turnout at the referendum.

Bob Taylor, chairman of Backwell Parish Council, said: “Backwell residents are to be congratulated in achieving a 40.71 per cent turnout at the referendum.

“I am absolutely delighted that so many residents supported the plan and that the work of the council’s steering group, supported by Backwell Residents’ Association, has paid off.

“It should help to ensure that Backwell gets, among other things, the right amount of new development, of the right type, in the right place.”

Backwell Parish Council was given £25,000 by the Government to draw up the document and surveys were sent out to every household to ensure they were given a say on the parish’s future.

The document includes the types of housing, development, facilities and shops residents would like to see in the area over the next 11 years.

It will now be used by North Somerset Council to help with planning and development control decisions.

When drawing up the document, the parish council consulted with all stakeholders – including developers – to identify the scale and location of development to be included in the plan.

However, an application for 340 houses to be built on Farleigh Fields in Backwell has now been registered with the unitary authority by Charles Church, with the parish council and Backwell Residents’ Association now urging residents to make sure they comment on the application before March 17.

Cllr Taylor added: “This development contravenes the spirit and the letter of our plan and would be a catastrophe for Backwell and should be fought vigorously.

“Therefore we recommend that all residents should register any comments or objections relating to the Charles Church development before March 17.

“The parish council will be closely monitoring how North Somerset decides on this development 
application to see whether neighbourhood planning is effective and whether the Government’s localism principles are realised.”

Villagers can comment at www.n-somerset.gov.uk or by writing to planning section, North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston, BS23 1UJ.


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