The Vale plans snubbed by North Somerset Council to campaigners’ displeasure

Villagers protesting against proposed housing developments at Ladymead Lane, Churchill.

Villagers protesting against proposed housing developments at Ladymead Lane, Churchill. - Credit: Archant

Villagers who fear the creation of a ‘dormitory town the size of Wells’ near their homes have criticised a decision to tear up alternative plans.

Taylor Wimpey’s vision to build The Vale – three villages totalling 4,500 homes on greenbelt land near Long Ashton – has been discounted by North Somerset Council as a potential housing site, despite strong calls from groups who feel it is the a remedy to the district’s housing shortfall.

The developer brought the plans forward as part of the council’s call for sites exercise in developing the local plan – which will be the blueprint for where 25,000 homes are built in North Somerset by 2036 – but officers have ruled it out as a possible site.

The council’s verdict has angered villagers, who feel The Vale – located close to Bristol with convenient transport links and more employment opportunities – is a ‘more logical and sustainable’ alternative to the proposed ‘garden village’ of 2,700 homes at Mendip Springs between Congresbury and Churchill which is part of the local plan.

A council spokesman said: “The council is committed to protecting the greenbelt and as this is in the greenbelt it has been discounted as a possible housing site.”

But Churchill and Langford Residents’ Action Group believes the council has made a mistake.

Its spokesman said: “The most logical and sustainable site for housing and employment in North Somerset would be near to Bristol where there are jobs to which people can walk, cycle or use existing public transport.

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“This land is greenbelt but it is strangling Bristol. Instead, the council wishes to create a dormitory town the size of Wells beside the Mendip Hills AONB simply to service jobs in Bristol.

“The council’s focus appears to be on availability of agricultural land in the countryside and not on sustainability.”

Despite the decision, Taylor Wimpey is confident its plans will materialise.

Project director Gareth Hawke said: “The Vale is the most sustainable location to build homes in North Somerset. While the authority wishes to exclude development adjacent to Bristol where most people work, we will continue to promote the land through the Government examination, where an experienced planning inspector will decide if the local plan can be sound without The Vale in it.”