Villagers seek legal advice over 25,000-home masterplan
PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 June 2018
Villagers fighting against a 'bonkers' housing plan and the 'destruction' of North Somerset's countryside will step up their efforts to see it scrapped by enlisting legal assistance.
Churchill and Langford Residents’ Action Group (CALRAG) is prepared to shell out ‘serious money’ on a planning barrister to work on its behalf so villagers’ voices are heard.
CALRAG strongly opposes proposals in the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), which has been created by authorities – including North Somerset Council – in the West Country to satisfy shortages in the region’s housing supply.
The JSP has earmarked North Somerset for 25,000 houses, including a 2,700-home ‘garden village’ on the fringe of Churchill, plus a 1,900-home development near Banwell.
But villagers have been angered by the plans, which may lead to a ‘destruction’ of the countryside and the neighbouring Mendip Hills area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
CALRAG’s concerns are shared by the likes of Weston MP John Penrose, who fears the proposals equate to ‘concreting over green fields’ and will ‘create urban sprawl around rural villages like Churchill and Congresbury’.
The JSP is currently under the Government microscope, and CALRAG hopes the help of a legal professional will see the garden village proposals scrapped in favour of building closer to Bristol.
A spokesman said: “CALRAG’s terrier-like research of the JSP has revealed numerous serious concerns regarding North Somerset’s plans for Churchill and Langford villages.
“We have just one chance to save the destruction of our villages and the AONB.
“North Somerset Council refuses to listen to our concerns and suggestions for improvement.
“CALRAG has thus concluded the only way to ensure the voices of Churchill and Langford residents is heard at the JSP public examination is to instruct a specialist planning barrister.”
The action group has launched an appeal for donation to help foot the bill, and created a non-profit company called Churchill Villages Development Ltd.
The spokesman added: “A planning barrister will cost serious money but we strongly believe that with the financial support of residents in our villages we can save our villages from this bonkers plan.”