House builder Crest Nicholson was slammed for its actions over the proposal to build houses on Green Belt land at Manor Road, Saltford during last week’s meeting of B&NES Council Development Control Committee. Saltford Councillor Mathew Blankley described the application and subsequent appeal as ‘wholly opportunistic.’ Recommended by Planning Officers to refuse the application, the committee voted unanimously on a motion to refuse, had it been in a position to do so. This curious wording was necessary due to the fact that Crest Nicholson had already lodged an appeal on the grounds that the statutory period for determination the planning application had already expired before the committee sat. An independent planning inspector will hear the appeal in August and B&NES decision yesterday will be taken into account when giving judgment.
The saga began last year when Crest Nicholson came forward with plans for the field on the south side of Manor Road to build 99 houses. Although the land lies within the Green Belt, the developer was relying on the fact that the Council had not at that stage delivered its Core Strategy for the area nor demonstrated it had a five year housing supply. When submitting its planning application, the developer claimed that these were justifiable exceptions to the rule which would allow Green Belt land to be used for housing. Since then, B&NES has addressed many of the issues which had caused the government inspector to halt the Core Strategy examination and in February, adopted plans to build an additional 1870 houses in specified areas before 2029. Saltford was not included in that list of areas thus protecting its Green Belt status, but the proposals agreed by the Council at the February meeting have yet to be ratified by the Inspector. Crest Nicholson took its opportunity to appeal once the statutory application period expired meaning the appeal will be heard before the Council’s revised plans have been accepted or not by the Planning Inspectorate. The Saltford Appeal will be heard on 3rd August in Keynsham.