Campaigner hits out at ‘back-stabbing’ council over housing inquiry pullout

PUBLISHED: 14:51 10 October 2017

Wrington villagers campaigning against the development at Cox's Green with North Somerset MP Liam Fox back in 2016.

Wrington villagers campaigning against the development at Cox's Green with North Somerset MP Liam Fox back in 2016.

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North Somerset Council says it remains opposed to a scheme to build almost 60 homes on the edge of Wrington, despite pulling out of a planning inquiry into the project.

Redcliffe Homes wants to built 59 houses in Coxs Green, but villagers believe it will cause problems for the area’s roads and schools, as well as exacerbate well-known flooding issues in Wrington.

The council and the Wrington Village Alliance campaign group were opposing an appeal by Redcliffe, but the authority pulled out halfway through the inquiry at Weston Town Hall – because its executive agreed in September 28 homes on the site is acceptable.

A council spokesman said: “The planning appeal is for an outline planning application for ‘up to’ 59 houses on the edge of the village.

“An outline application is one which leaves all the details of design and layout to a later stage called reserved matters.

“The council considered a development of this size to be excessive and to have an adverse impact on the landscape and has been fighting the appeal on this basis.

“We did not consider a smaller proposal for up to 28 houses would have the same impact. It was therefore included as an additional housing allocation in the Site Allocations Plan.

“During the ongoing public inquiry, and in response to queries from the inspector, it became apparent that once all the detailed evidence had been considered, the council’s objections to the larger scheme could be resolved at the reserved matters stage, if the appeal were to be allowed.

“The council will continue to maintain its objections at the next stage, if the appeal is allowed.”

Campaigner Sally Bartlett said villagers have given up their own money to fight Redcliffe’s appeal and the council’s move was ‘lamentable’.

She added: “North Somerset has really stabbed us in the back – it just caved.”

Ms Bartlett said council leader Nigel Ashton’s criticism of the Government for high housing targets was of little value if the authority bows to developers’ demands and pressure.

More than 100 people turned out last week at a public hearing in Wrington to show the inspector the level of concern.

The result of the inquiry is expected to be published later this year.

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