North Somerset Council: ‘Precious’ landscape must be protected

PUBLISHED: 09:00 05 December 2016

Steve Lovegrove

A ‘stunning’ area near Weston-super-Mare should be protected against development due to its strong ‘rural feel’, according to North Somerset Council.

Developer Molwin Estates wants to build 79 homes off Bleadon Hill and the application will be determined by a planning inspector following an inquiry, which began on Tuesday.

The inquiry took place after North Somerset Council took too long to decide the application’s fate and Molwin lodged an appeal on the grounds of non-determination.

The council’s barrister, Tim Leader, told the inquiry the area was ‘truly precious’ due to its location next to the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and development would be inappropriate.

Mr Leader said: “Bleadon Hill, winding its way down to Bleadon village, has a strong rural feel.

“You feel a sense of remoteness which is made more stunning by the fact Weston is so close by.

“There are houses off in the distance, but you feel as if you are in the countryside. You do not feel as if you are almost cheek and jowl with this borough’s largest town.

“You are only a stone’s throw away from something which is truly precious.”

Molwin’s barrister Giles Cannock told the inquiry the development should go ahead as in his opinion, the council could not meet its required five-year housing supply. He also claimed the site’s location did not matter as it was not directly within the AONB.

Mr Cannock said: “It (the site) does not lie within any designation. There is no doubt it will be valued locally, but the same is true of any greenfield site.

“The site does not form part of the AONB and should not be treated as if it does.”

The inquiry is scheduled to last for six days and a decision will then be made by planning inspector Sarah Howsden.

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