Controversial housing estate plans for Chew Valley are rejected

Todd Foreman

Todd Foreman

Lady Rees-Mogg’s controversial planning application to build 19 new homes on a greenfield site in the Chew Valley were rejected by Bath & North East Somerset Council yesterday.

After the plans for Hinton Blewett were lodged with the council, her son, North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, found himself at the centre of a row involving his constituents.

At the time Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, Todd Foreman, accused Mr Rees-Mogg of not speaking out on behalf of residents, saying he had taken positions on other planning applications in the past.

At the time Mr Rees-Mogg told The Week In that as an MP he had no authority over planning so could only pass on people’s views to the council. He said that when Green Belt land was under discussion he could ask ministers to ‘call in’ applications but the land in Hinton Blewett was not Green Belt.

The Hinton Blewett Action Group was set up to fight the scheme and more than 50 letters of objection were sent to B&NES. The parish council also objected.

Local people said that greenfield sites should be preserved and that the development was too large for their small village, would spoil their view and negatively affect their property prices. They were worried about the village’s poor access and said Hinton Blewett did not have the amenities to cope with an influx of 40-plus more residents.

In a report to B&NES’ Development Control Committee yesterday, housing and highways officers voiced their objections, saying it was a significant development proposal in an isolated rural location with unlit rural lanes and no regular bus services, very limited services and the nearest primary schools and shops several miles away.

The scheme was turned down by the committee because it was deemed unacceptable in principle.

Today Todd Foreman, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, said today: “This is a victory for common sense and one I strongly welcome. The proposed development on a greenfield site was not suitable for this small village, especially as the local parish council has identified brownfield and infill sites for housing that are a much better alternative.

“Having spoken to many Hinton Blewett residents over the last couple of months, and witnessed the force with which they came out to take part in a public meeting on the issue, those living in the village have demonstrated the power of community campaigning.

“There has been disappointment that one local voice notably missing from the debate. Having looked for help, support and representation from their MP, the residents of Hinton Blewett were left wanting and had to take matters into their own hands, despite Jacob Rees-Mogg happily speaking up in recent weeks on similar issues in Saltford and South Stoke. Fortunately the passionate united voice of Hinton Blewett Action Group has achieved the right result for the village.”

The action group  said it was pleased that the application had been turned down but added: “It’s a long road yet to continue to secure the development doesn’t happen on that site in the future.”