‘This is a serious attempt to develop the Green Belt’

Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore has met with concerned local people outside the house that has been purchased by developers who hope to demolish it to create an access to a new housing estate on Green Belt land known as The Batch.

Local residents who turned out for Friday’s meeting said that the house in Hencliffe Way has been bought for £1.3m by Ashfield Land, which has partnered with Redrow Homes and is proposing that 149 homes are built on the fields.

Mr Skidmore said: “There is no formal application as yet but there is a serious attempt to build on this land because they would not have necessarily decided to buy the house and knock it down and try to create an entrance.

“We’ve got to make sure that we treat this extremely seriously and organise straight away, from the beginning. We will be organising a cross-party petition. It really is important that this is cross-party, regardless of who you vote for. I am standing down as an MP at the next election. I want to work with the Labour Party, with the Green Party, with the Liberal Democrat Party. We all come together on a common cause to protect our environment.”

Mr Skidmore, who is a former Energy Minister and has undertaken an independent review into Net Zero for the Government, continued: “Yes, of course we need new houses and there is a place for new housing but when we look at this particular land, this is high grade agricultural land. It is also right next to a river environment and when it comes to looking at the Hanham Green Belt in particular, one of the reasons why I have always made the case that above all we protect the Hanham Green Belt is that this is a green lung, a space between Bristol and Bath that we’ve got to protect, not just for local residents to have access to nature, but for nature itself.”

As well as being concerned about the loss of the Green Belt, concerns voiced by  local residents include the impact of extra traffic, on wildlife and on already stretched local services.

Hanham District Green Belt Conservation Society, which had members at Friday’s meeting, is concerned that “favourable discussions” may have taken place between representatives of the site and South Gloucestershire Council officers for the developers to be sufficiently confident to purchase the house to enable access.