Greenbelt housing application to be decided by Minister

A planning application for a large housing development on Greenbelt land in Saltford is to be decided by Communities and Local Government Minister Eric Pickles.

The 99-home application was due to be decided by an independent Planning Inspector after the developer took the plans to appeal on the grounds of ‘non-determination’ by Bath and North East Somerset Council.

However, the fate of the application will now rest in the hands of the Minister for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles after the matter was raised with the Secretary of State by local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The news comes following hearings held to consider the planning appeal, during which residents and councillors in the village spoke out against the plans. Although the Inspector will no longer take the final decision on whether or not to approve the application, he will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State.

Saltford’s two Conservative councillors Francine Haeberling and Mathew Blankley have backed residents fighting the plans and say they hope Mr Pickles will throw out the application, which would see 99 new houses built on land off Manor Road in the edge of the village.

Cllr Mathew Blankley (Cons, Saltford) said:

“The fact this application has been referred to the Secretary of State for a final decision demonstrates just how controversial these plans have been, and we would like to thank Jacob Rees-Mogg for taking this matter up with the Minister.

“Residents in Saltford are totally opposed to building on the Greenbelt surrounding our village, which protects Saltford’s identity as a distinct local community. The Manor Road application would not only encroach onto the Greenbelt, but it would also add to traffic problems and pressure on the local Primary School, which is at capacity.

“Very strong arguments against the application were presented at the recent appeal hearings by all of us fighting these plans, so we obviously hope the Inspector recommends refusal and that Eric Pickles rejects them.”