Plans to build 290 new homes on the edge of Bath have been sent to developers
Plans to build hundreds of homes on Bath’s rural southern edge have been sent to developers.
A plan to build nearly 300 homes on green fields on the edge of the city has been recommended for approval by planning officers at Bath and North East Somerset Council, despite more than 1,200 local residents objecting to the development. But when the plans were outlined by the council’s planning committee, councilors said they did not have enough information to make a decision and sent the plans back to the developers.
The Hignett Family Trust had hoped to build 290 homes – 40% of which would be affordable housing – in the fields adjacent to Odd Down as the third and fourth “phases” of the Sulis Down development. The first phase of the project was a new development of 171 homes on Combe Hay Lane, behind Odd Down Park and Ride, which was approved “with the greatest reluctance” by councilors on Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee in 2018.
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Solis Manor and the surrounding land is the second phase of the development, but will be “developed by others.” The entire site lies within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Site of Bath, but the land has been designated as a strategic site designated for 300 homes.
Together with the homes in the first phase, the Solis Down development will exceed this number and approach 450 homes. But council planning officers, who recommended the scheme be approved, said: “Provided the placemaking policies can be met, there should be no objection.”
But at the packed committee meeting, people objecting to the development questioned whether it met council policies, and whether it met requirements to build in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Malcolm Austwick of Coombe High Parish Council – one of seven parish councils that objected to the plan – said planning officers were responding to the 2014 report without acknowledging that there were other sites for the houses now. He also criticized the development plans for focusing too much on housing.
He said: “The plans you are being asked to approve contain no pub, no church, no community hall, no community library, no café, no shops, no medical facilities and no school. (…) Everything that this community will need must be obtained off-site.
Joel Hirst, a councilor for the neighboring Odd Down ward, warned: “To build here we need exceptional conditions. Things have changed. They don’t exist anymore.”
Concerns have also been raised about the traffic impact, which objectors warned could cause a “carmageddon”. A traffic impact assessment was carried out, which found there would not be a severe impact, but objectors said it was carried out while nearby private schools were on holiday.
Planning committee chairman Duncan Hounsell said councilors needed more information from the applicant about the impact on local traffic and whether exceptional circumstances to allow the development still existed.
He added: “This may give a brief window where the applicant can defer what he heard this morning.”