Saltford housing plan called in by Secretary of State

A decision on whether up to 99 houses can be built on Green Belt land off Manor Road in Saltford will be made ultimately by Eric Pickles, Minister for Communities and Local Government.

The planning application by Crest Nicholson was refused by B&NES Council’s development control committee earlier this year but the case had already been sent to appeal by the developer on the grounds the council had exceeded the statutory time limit to consider it.

Phil Harding of the Saltford Environment Group at last month's public inquiry

Adrian Betts of the Saltford Environment Group at last month’s public inquiry

The public inquiry took place at the Fry Club in Keynsham last month and the Government appointed planning inspector was due to have published his decision by this week. A statement issued by the Planning Inspectorate today (18th September) said: “Although under the Town and Country Planning (Determination of Appeals by Appointed Persons) (Prescribed Classes) Regulations 1997, the appeal was to have been decided by an inspector, the Secretary of State considers that he should determine it himself.

“Accordingly, in exercise of his powers under section 79 and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Secretary of State hereby directs that he shall determine this appeal instead of an inspector. This means that instead of writing a decision, the inspector will prepare a report and recommendation, which will be forwarded to the Secretary of State.

“The reason for this direction is that the appeal involves proposals for significant development in the Green Belt.”

The ‘call in’ is understood to have come after local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote to the Minister, expressing the concerns of local residents should the development go ahead. In his letter, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “The ramifications of proceeding with this will not only affect members of the Saltford community but will also have an impact upon the constituency as a whole.

“Ultimately, I am worried that it will set a precedent and encourage developers to seek to build on Green Belt land which for North East Somerset is especially perturbing in the absence of a Core Strategy. It is my view that the Green Belt ought to be protected and is one shared deeply by most constituents.”

There is no indication as yet as to when the Secretary of State will make the final decision.