planning stories and news from estate agents
Nailsea green belt countryside plans
Hundreds of new homes could be built on acres of green belt land on the outskirts of Nailsea.
Land Value Alliances (LVA UK) is to submit a planning application to build up to 600 homes on a 25 hectare green belt site to the north of Nailsea on the Wraxall border.
The move comes despite North Somerset Council saying it will robustly protect its green belt and that it has sufficient land to meet Government housing number targets.
The stretch of land runs from Bristol Road near the GE Oil and Gas building and runs around the back of the Southfield Road Trading Estate and Greenfield Crescent to Clevedon Road.
The development, which would also include up to two hectares of employment land, also offers the potential to create a 'northern bypass' from the site to the back of Southfield Road Trading Estate – with the potential to link to Clevedon Road.
Nailsea Town Council has for years been keen to see an access road from the B3130 to the Southfield Road Trading Estate to prevent heavy good vehicles using residential roads to access the site.
It has also been pressing for a review of the green belt as part of its vision for new development in the town and hopes by 'sacrifficing' this area it can protect Youngwood Lane from proposals to build a 'garden city'. - see articles below.
However the council has said it would only agree to land on the northern fringes of Nailsea being removed from the green belt if a larger area between Nailsea and Backwell – from Morgans Hill to the railway line – is given the protected status.
A consultation on the draft 'Joint Spatial Plan' – a blueprint which sets out how North Somerset and the region as a whole should develop up until 2036 – finished last month.
The plan put forward the land at the north of Nailsea as a potential site for development, despite it lying in the green belt.
The move sparked a wave of objections from local residents who said the land should continue to be protected.
Wraxall and Failand Parish Council clerk Tony Jay said: "The parish council strongly objects to development in this area.
"As part of the consultation on the joint spatial plan we consulted with local residents who raised strong objections to any development."
The four West of England Councils -North Somerset, Bristol City, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset - have been working together to develop the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) and Joint Transport Study (JTS)
The JSP identifies potential strategic locations for up to 39,900 homes across the region and the JTS puts forward an ambitious set of integrated transport packages needed to address current transport issues and support the proposed new growth.
The plan includes up to 3,600 new homes in Nailsea and Backwell – most on the western fringes of the town.
Bosses at LVA have already held informal discussions with Nailsea Town Council about the site and believe it offers a 'viable' and 'sustainable' option to help meet the town's housing targets.
A spokesman for LVA said: "The site is located right on the edge of Nailsea's development boundary.
"It's bordered by the B3130, existing housing, a trading estate and business park.
"It isn't located within the AONB [Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty], it isn't part of a high risk flood zone, nor is it part of a special landscape area.
"The Land Yeo to the north would provide a more effective and long term defensible greenbelt boundary.
"The potential also exists to 're-allocate' green belt status to protect the more sensitive strategic gap between Backwell and Nailsea.
"It also has the potential to deliver a much needed northern bypass road which would reduce congestion locally and provide a more suitable access for the existing and proposed employment areas."
Nailsea Town Council clerk Ian Morrell said: "The town council has a long standing policy of wanting to see new development in the town which is part of a masterplan.
"The refusal by North Somerset Council to consider a green belt review means that development will inevitably be piecemeal.,
"The town council would welcome any proposal which would increase the possibility of a green belt review for the town."
And as one road opens another closes as works started this week on Barrow Street at Barrow Gurney. Costing some £200,000,this work is funded by Bristol Airport through a planning agreement and will be carried out by the council’s contractor, Skanska. The programme of works will include a new footway between School Lane and Hobbs Lane, drainage, walling and other associated highway works.There will be a temporary road closure in place for approximately eight weeks so that the safety of the workers and highway users are protected. A signed diversion will be in place using the newly opened Colliters Way (South Bristol Link).
Opportunity to see Engine Lane plans
It's the week before Christmas and most people, especially parents, are running around like headless chickens (well maybe not this year as the birds are being banged up due to avian flu fears) but it is the time Barratt Homes has chosen to unveil its design for Nailsea west.
The controversial plans to build at Engine Lane, Nailsea, go on show at Christ Church vestry hall on Thursday, December 15.
The public exhibition by Barratt Homes is open from 3-8pm.
Nailsea residents are invited to find out more and have their say about a proposed housing development off Engine Lane.
If approved, the development would provide up to 195 new homes for the town.
Barratt planning and design manager Chris Dolling said he looked forward to meeting local people.
He said: “After a lot of hard work we are finally in a position to share our draft plans with the local community.
“This is a special project where we have worked in close cooperation with Nailsea Town Council and Nailsea and Backwell Rugby Club.
“We are keen to hear what local residents think and I hope many will come along to the exhibition.”
This scheme will make an important contribution to housing targets for North Somerset, which has a minimum of 20,985 dwellings up to 2026.
At present, proposals for Nailsea total 815 dwellings.
Mr Dolling added: “This is a good site in a sustainable location.
“The project helps the Council demonstrate a five year housing land supply, which helps to avoid speculative development elsewhere.”
The site capacity is up to 195 homes, of which 58 are deemed ‘affordable’.
The development would offer a range of house types and sizes, suitable for first time buyers and families.
The builders believe the scheme will be a natural extension to Nailsea and include new infrastructure, including an attractive open green space, two play areas, two ponds, pedestrian and cycle links and improvements to existing bridleways.
In the meantime Wraxall & Failand Parish Council isn't thrilled a bundle that Nailsea Town Council want to take some of its countryside out of the Green Belt.
The parish council is aware that North Somerset Councilreceived a representation from Land Value Alliances (LVA) in March requesting that land within the parish of Wraxall, to the north east of Nailsea be included as a residential/mixed use allocation.
The proposal is for approximately 600 houses, which to put into perspective is double the size of The Elms.
North Somerset Council formal response is: "This site lies within the Green Belt. The Site Allocations Plan (SAP) allocates sufficient land to meet Core Strategy targets without the need to amend the Green Belt. In accordance with Para 83 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF,) exceptional circumstances do not exist to warrant a review of the Green Belt and this position was supported by the Inspector at the hearing into the remitted Core Strategy policies in June 2016”
It is not known whether LVA are going to pursue their representation in the latest consultation of the Site Allocation Plan that finishes on Monday, December 19.
Given that, in the view of the Planning Inspectorate, the distrcit council isstruggling to meet the five year housing supply and that Nailsea Town Council is pressing for Green Belt boundaries to be reviewed it is possible that the Green Belt argument will not in itself be sufficient to prevent this proposed development.
You can read more on the Wraxall & Failand Parish Council website with lots of relevAnt links by clicking HERE.
ENGINE LANE: So much has been written about this subject from news reports to council meetings, from blogs for and against to petitions also for and against. The plans from split the council, families and sports clubs - let's see what people think when they actually get the chance to see what is proposed for themselves
Sale agreed subject to contract
The land at Engine Lane which divided public opinion is sold subject to contract.
After a lenghty debate Nailsea Town Council voted in favour of selling the Gaulacre land to Barratt Homes 11 to eight, with one against and one abstention on Wednesday evening.
This was despite being presented with a Nailsea Action Group petition of nearly 400 names opposing the sale and a number of concerns raised by town councilors about the housing mix and details of the contract.
NAG chairman Matt Thomas said “We’re disappointed with the intransigence of the town council and its failure to consider the long-term future requirements of the town and the West End of Nailsea.
"They’ve consistently failed to explain their opposition to Youngwood Lane while supporting building on Gaulacre.
"Sadly, building on Gaulacre isn’t going to resolve the issues, in demographic and school numbers, they claim it will.”
NAG has raised a number of concerns about the legality of the sale and the value of the deal, the exact details of which still are unknown as discussed in closed session.
Mr Thomas added: "The planning application by Barratts will be closely scrutinised and opposed by our group who believe the increased volume of traffic and use of facilities such as the station and its car park will not cope with the growth."
Nailsea resident Sarah Davis organised a petition in favour of the development which she sees as providing much needed homes for young families.
Sarah said: "The vote ratio reflects the mixed feelings in our community about this development but with the housing numbers allocated to Nailsea in the core strategy being what they are, this is a great outcome and will inject capital into our town council."
Nailsea Town Council has a lengthy shopping wishlist including buying Youth House as a 'social sevices-style' hub catering for all ages while still acting as a youth centre.
.A public exhibition for Barratt Homes’ the proposed housing development on land off Engine Lane in Nailsea the previous week attracted great interest.
The project team welcomed 190 people to the event at Christ Church’s Vestry Hall in Nailsea.
Information panels set out the plans for up to 183 dwellings to be situated west of the town.
Land manager Matt Regan said: “We have been pleased with the response that we have received from residents, it has been quite a balanced view.
"Supporters of the scheme said they back the development because of the necessary boost it will give to Nailsea’s ageing population.
"Younger people will keep the town’s economy and community going and housing is desperately needed to give younger people a chance to get on to the property ladder.
“Our team had the opportunity to address a number of concerns raised by residents, in particular regarding local traffic and infrastructure.
"Our independent traffic and transport expert was on hand to discuss these issues with residents and provide information on the assessments that have been undertaken.
"We will continue to liaise with local residents throughout the process and answer any questions they may have.”
Barratt Homes is working to submit a planning application for the development in early 2017.
To respond to the Barratt consultation click HERE.
Nailsea Place for Nailsea people
Nailsea Town Council is buying Youth House as a new community hub.
At its meeting this week councillors decided to buy the high street property from North Somerset Council although they would like to haggle with the £325,000 price tag.
There was some debate as to whether the council should wait for the results of its current consultation survey which asks Nailsea people what it would like for the town but it was unanimously decided to bid for the property now.
Originally 65 High Street was a butcher’s shop built in Victorian times but for nearly four decades it has been used as a centre for young people.
Thanks to visionary area youth worker Maurice Thornton is was set up as a youth centre with café and pool room at a time when Nailsea saw rapid house building and had more teenagers than it knew what to do with!
Following local government reorganisation in 1996 ownership passed from Avon County Council to North Somerset Council and ever since the pioneering youth club has been under threat of closure especially when the district council stopped funding youth services in 2012.
When the Mycon (Methodist Youth Club of Nailsea) closed in 2008 it became the only youth club in town although other sport, Scout, cadet and performing art clubs were thriving.
Nailsea Town Council picked up were the district council left off to fund a limited opening on Mondays from 3.30-6pm for school children in Year 6-8 and 6.30-9pm for Year 9 upwards.
Youth House is a labyrinth of small rooms, some upstairs with limited access for people with mobility issues, and immediate updating costs are estimated at more than £150,000.
But ever since it moved from Church House at Silver Street to offices at the Tithe Barn the town council has been searching for a more town centre base for all the community to use.
Rural Nailsea is a 'des res'
Clevedon has its seaside; Portishead has its marina – so what does Nailsea have that makes people want to live here?
Residents who packed another heated meeting of Nailsea Town Council to discuss future planning say it is its green and pleasant countryside, which despite many large housing estates being built post-1960s, still surround the once small coal-mining village known internationally for its Victorian glassworks.
It is these same fields that prompted the huge pylon protest that give Nailsea its rural identify making it a desirable place to live, councillors were told.
The government has decreed that by 2026 North Somerset must build 20,985 more homes and by 2036 another 39,000.
The district council wants 1,000 built at Nailsea by 2026 and a further 2,800 in the next decade to the west of the town towards Clevedon – land across the moors which is not in the green belt.
Backwell is allocated a further 800 and there is the sweetener of a possible new road to the M5.
Meanwhile the debate rages with people at The Uplands and Engine Lane shouting ‘not-in-my-backyard’ while some on the town council are anxious to cash in on a multi-million pound windfall if it sells a plot it had previously designated as parkland.
North Somerset councillor for Youngwood ward Jan Barber who is also a town councillor said the solution was a ‘green’ buffer between existing houses and any new build.
Conscience that the economy of the town is threatened by an ageing population which affects the viability of its shops and schools Nailsea Town Council sees building ‘affordable’ starter homes for young people as one answer.
But what is ‘affordable’ and will the developers keep to ‘the plan’ are among the questions being asked.
Scottish builders Mactaggart & Mickel want to build 450 upmarket homes behind The Uplands on green fields at Youngwood Lane as a ‘garden city’ while Barratt Homes want to build a mix of 195 homes off Engine Lane.
But Engine Lane isn’t ‘freehold and free’ as it has restrictive covenants on the land which could cost upwards of half a million pound to lift.
At the meeting on Wednesday evening town council chairman David Packham acknowledged two opposing petitions of approximately 300 names each ‘for’ and ‘against’ further development.
Mr Packham read out the pro-petition which said: “Many young people who have grown up in Nailsea are having to move out of the town to be able to afford a property – we are losing the next generation while building substantial retirement properties. During the past few years little has been done for families and first time buyers.”
Born and bred
In the original Avon County Council plan Nailsea was predicted to grow from 3,000 to 20,000 plus but its latest population figures are static at around 15,000.
Developers have been unsuccessfully targeting the outskirts of the town for many years trying to build on Morgan’s Hill and Yeo Valley with the green belt stopping any more homes on the Wraxall edge of Nailsea.
Another question being asked is do the ‘incomers’ have any right to oppose new homes when most are living in homes built from the 1960s onwards on its farmland when at the same time short-sighted town planners okayed tearing down much of its traditional High Street in favour of a concrete shopping precinct?
At the meeting the council threw out a contentious motion by 5-10 votes to pay £500,000 to North Somerset Council and compensate by nearly £700,000 Nailsea & Backwell Rugby Club to allow a periphery four acres being included in the sale of a 19-acres parcel to Barratt Homes off Engine Lane.
This leaves it to decide what to do with the 10-acres at Gaulacre which was bought for £114,000 in 2008 for sport and recreation use.
Nailsea Action Group chairman Matthew Thomas said: “The council could lose up to £5 million in hidden costs if it goes ahead and sells the Gaulacre land at Engine Lane for an estimated £10 million.
“Given the recent publication of the proposals for 2,800 houses, in addition to the 1,100 already proposed for Nailsea by 2036, does the council not think that there may be a greater value in the preservation of the open space for future generations than the short-term injection of money whose benefits will be short-lived and long gone by 2036?
Mr Thomas argued it was immoral to boost the profits of a company predicted to make £680 million in 2016 and if the council waited until 2023 the percentage due to the original landowner would drop by £2.5 million.
Paying £2.6 million for utility and legal services for Barrett Homes dubbed ‘abnormal costs’ was not an ‘underhand’ move, said Mr Packham.
Those in the audience accused the town council of carrying out secret negotiations with Barratt Homes and putting wetlands between Nailsea and Clevedon at risk of extensive development.
Town councillor Jeremy Blatchford said: “It will change the centre of gravity for Nailsea.”
Former chairman Mary Ponsonby slammed as ‘misinformation’ a report to district councillors saying the town council was about to dispose of rented rugby pitches to Barratt Homes and the amount it was willing to pay for removing the non-residential clause because no sale had been agreed.
District and town councillor Mary Blatchford said: “I am disgusted with the way this deal has been done – we look weak going into negotiations having already revealed how much we were willing to pay.”
Mr Packham said the matter had been discussed ad infinitum and this was not ‘a figure plucked out of the air’.
Another former town council chairman Clare Hunt said: “We are in the business of doing the best for residents of our town and not throwing away public money.
“It is our duty to provide new homes – we have a housing crisis in this country.
“By selling to Barratt Homes we could get millions of pounds for our town to do good things but mostly by providing new homes which are needed now and this is our chance to do it.”
Cllr Jan Barber put forward keeping the litigious land as open space and using it was an access to the fields either side.
She added: “I think we should go to Barratt Homes and say they can still use their beautiful plans and build in the field behind and we can use our 10-acres as open space which is what we bought it for.”
New homes being build at site of the old Barrow hospital cost nearly £1 million.
It was previously a psychiatric hospital and used by the Royal Navy during World War II.
But now part of the former Barrow Gurney Hospital near Nailsea has been transformed into a new development of luxury homes.
Click HERE to read full Bristol Post story.
Closure of Nailsea's police station moves ever nearer
Work has started on the creation of a new North Somerset Police Centre at Weston Gateway bringing the closure of Nailsea police station a step closer.
Bristol-based contractor Midas has moved on to the site, which is adjacent to junction 21 of the M5 motorway in Weston, to begin work.
The new facility is expected to be complete and operational by April 2017, when officers will be able to vacate Weston Police Station which was sold to North Somerset Council earlier this year.
Once complete, the new police centre will be used by response teams which are currently split between Nailsea and Weston police stations, and also neighbourhood policing teams for the outer Weston areas, Worle and the surrounding villages.
This will allow the response teams to easily access the motorway and main road network from their base, while the neighbourhood teams will be more central with better access to the local communities they cover.
McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles Ltd want to demolish the Nailsea police buildings at Stockway South and build a three and four storey complex of 40 retirement apartments with associated communal facilities and boundary wall/ railings, structures and car parking.
It received a mixed reception from Nailsea people and revised plans were submitted to North Somerset Council at the end of June.
It is expected the 1960s police station will be demolished and what remains of the officers stationed at Nailsea will be relocated to revamped front desk facilities at Scotch Horn...and reading between the lines below could Nailsea lose its ambulance station too?
The new Weston police centre will also include two interview rooms for voluntary attendees and one area will be leased to South Western Ambulance Service for its crews to use when not attending incidents.
Before the closure of Weston police station, the Weston town centre team will move into North Somerset Council’s Town Hall in Walliscote Grove Road where the constabulary already has its enquiry office.
This will ensure a policing presence is also maintained in Weston’s town centre.
North Somerset local policing commander Tina Robinson said: “We are looking forward to all our response officers being in one place and having good access to the main road network.
“The neighbourhood police teams are also going to be more central to the communities they serve, making them more accessible to the public and ensuring they continue to carry out quality, local policing.
“It is also important to note that while this new facility will operate as a base for our teams, they will continue to be out in their communities and on patrol for much of their time.
“We are also continuously reviewing our IT capabilities to ensure officers spend as little time in stations as possible.”
Weston Police Station was sold to North Somerset Council in April after it was identified for disposal in the constabulary’s five-year estates strategy due to its high running costs and the fact it is too big for the force’s requirements.
The new purpose-built police centre will have much lower running costs, allowing the constabulary to make significant future savings.
While the target completion date of the new North Somerset Police Centre has been pushed back due to negotiations on final details of the project, the constabulary will continue to lease back some space in the current Weston police station to allow officers to remain there until they can move into their new base.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “The new police centre will really make a difference to the way the constabulary is able to access and police the local communities of North Somerset.
"The location of the centre enables officers to carry out their role more effectively and efficiently and ensure they are there when local people need them most.
“Keeping neighbourhood teams in the Town Hall and having outer neighbourhood teams and response officers based at the new centre ensures that we can continue to meet the policing needs of our local communities.
"The purpose-built facility will also be more cost effective, helping to make significant future savings and ensuring value for money for local people.”
Derek Quinn, executive director for Midas Construction’s Wales & Wessex division, said: “Midas is delighted to be the contractor of choice for this project. We have a huge amount of experience working at Weston Gateway having delivered a number of buildings at the site over the past few years. Once opened, the new facility will enable the police to continue their vital work across the region.”
North Somerset Council leader and Portishead councillor Nigel Ashton said: “This is another milestone in partnership arrangements and the reception area in the Town Hall is already a well-used facility offering joined-up services to residents.
"We have an excellent working relationship with the police, with their officers already working out of Castlewood in Clevedon.
"We look forward to welcoming them to the Town Hall.”
Below is the original image released by developers for the Nailsea police station site and top is the revised image.
Campaign for rural Nailsea
Campaigners are calling on council planners to go back to the drawing board and not to build more houses on green fields surrounding Nailsea.
North Somerset Council is tasked by government to build 20,895 homes in the next decade.
And it says nearly 1,000 should be built at Nailsea.It has identified land at Engine Lane, The Uplands and Causeway View for hundreds of new homes.
There are also plans - not included in the blueprint - by developer Mactaggart and Mickel to build 450 homes on land off Youngwood Lane.
Nailsea Action Group (NAG) formed 'for the protection of rural Nailsea' has held a series of public meetings since it was formed in January this year.
It has scrutinised the allocations plan and says the district council needs to 'look again' because of the detrimental impact of the hundreds of new homes on the town.
More than 120 residents attended the latest meeting to hear the worse affected would be 'roads west and north of Nailsea' with no proposals in place to improve the narrow country lanes.
NAG chairman Matthew Thomas said: “We recognize the need for more housing and the pressure the council is under to provide a five-year housing supply, but these plans will result in the loss of invaluable open space used by hundreds of residents in the town.
"The town simply does not have the infrastructure and jobs to support this level of growth in its population.
"Many residents have expressed concerns over existing difficulties with parking in the town centre and the time it takes to get a routine doctor’s appointment.”
North Somerset Council acknowledges that Nailsea’s employment opportunities are limited and that the majority of new residents would seek work in Bristol or Weston-super-Mare, but there are no plans to expand the railways or roads into the town.
The trains are already overcrowded at peak times and the station car park is already almost at capacity.
The action group says that the overall number of homes allocated to Nailsea is too high.
To unblock the market for family-sized homes in the town, homes are needed that are suitable for downsizing, by older people, which are smaller than normally provided by volume house builders.
Consequently the land area around Nailsea allocated for housing in the plan is too high as these smaller homes, particularly in retirement apartments, require less land.
A consultation on the site allocations plan ended in April.
The blueprint will now be finalised and submitted to a government inspector for examination.
The inspector will then make his recommendations before the plan is formally adopted by the council in April next year.
As well as identifying existing and new sites for residential and employment uses, the draft plan also puts forward a number of 'Local Green Space' sites and 'strategic gaps' for protection from any development.
NAILSEA PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE: Nailsea Town Council chairman David Packham receive a 119-name petition from Nailsea Action Group chairman Matthew Thomas and supporter Anthony Evans, the old Glassworks and the Garden City Masterplan story - to read in full scroll further down this page
Not In My Nailsea Backyard
When Nailsea expanded from a small village of 3,000 people to a population of nearly 20,000 the rapid growth caused lots of teething problems.
Teenagers had nothing to do, stay-at-home mums felt isolated and no sooner had families’ settled when the banks and insurance companies would move its white collar workers to another part of the country.
The free weekly newspaper at that time advertised only one or two local jobs in its Sits Vac column and one was always for a double-glazing salesman.
So no jobs, schools chocker block, unfinished roads, lack of footpaths, disproportionate number of teenagers and people from a wide variety of places and backgrounds trying to gel - no wonder Nailsea youth rebelled with a New Year riot!
Oh I should mention the town had plenty of pubs many of which sold cheap cider.
However, scandalous goings-on has been the town’s forte since 18th evangelist Hannah More discovered glutinous, illiterate glassworkers living in filthy overcrowded hovels or the 20th expose by the national tabloids that Nailsea was a hot-bed of wife-swapping.
The Nailsea-born-and-bred brigade looked on somewhat bemused as the city-born incomers strolled out at weekends wearing green wellies and complaining veraciously about the abundance of dog poo down by Backwell lake – it was swan poop!
By the time the the ‘town’ became a cohesive community the 30-somethings from the 1960s had grown much older and Nailsea shrunk as its children left for university never to return or simply moved another area offering cheaper homes.
So here is the dilemma – to build more houses including some with the magic tag ‘affordable’ or see schools and shops close and Nailsea turning into a Cocoon-style retirement complex?
In the past housing estates went up and infrastructure followed but new legislation being considered by the government in its briefing paper dated April 2016 Planning Reform Proposals says the two should go hand-in-hand. To read click HERE.
This means when new houses are built the roads, schools and community amenities get built too.
So where are we in Nailsea – it appears the town is split between the ‘haves and have-nots’ that is those with a roof over their head and those unable to get on the housing ladder.
Well a town built for 20,000 now has 15,500 and in the blueprint for the next 10 years currently under consultation has earmarked it to grow by a least 1,000 – with many believing before the dust settle Nailsea will get an extra 5,000 houses.
But while Nailsea Town Council held its nerve at raucous and rude meetings with those opposed to any more homes being build in their backyards consultation meetings on the new core strategy which would spell out what gets build where and when have been poorly attended.
Although Mactaggart and Mickel strategic land manager Ken Hopkins told a meeting of Nailsea Chamber of Trade & Commerce meeting this month 500 people in total attended their two consultations about building 450 houses at Youngwood Lane including 130 ‘affordable homes’ and a 10-acre park.
Mr Hopkins said: “Developers never get welcomed with balloons and banners but there is always an element of scaremongering involved.”
His company will be submitting a planning application within the next three to four weeks.
While 1,209 people were reached with 16 shares when someone found a cuddly toy at Coombe Road, 10,000 read the stories by Nailsea People about missing cats and 100,000 clicked on to learn about the fatal road crash at Clevedon Road.
Yet planning stories seem only to interest the near neighbours or the environmentalists who number in their hundreds and not thousands.
Nailsea Action Group chairman Matthew Thomas and supporter Anthony Evans presented a 119-name petition to town council chairman David Packham on Wednesday night calling for a halt to anymore house building in the town.
The petition read: ‘We the undersigned, whilst recognising the work of Nailsea Town Council to support our towns’ schools and businesses, call upon them to challenge North Somerset Council’s requirements for over 1,000 new homes in Nailsea on proposed sites distant from amenities and without provision of adequate infrastructure to support a possible 20 per cent increase in Nailsea’s population’.
Happily it was all very civilised in contrast to the last council meeting when insults and interruptions prevailed.
Mr Thomas said the petition was collected in approximately three hours.
Fears that Engine Lane, The Causeway and Youngwood Lane could all be developed were expressed at the meeting.
Councillor Phil Barclay thought the key to unlocking more land was to review the Green Belt which has proved an unmoveable barrier on the east of Nailsea towards Wraxall.
Councillor Rod Lees asked the petitioners what ‘infrastructure’ they were worried about and in what order?
Inadequate roads, lack of commuter car parking space, overcrowded trains and doctor and dental services stretched to capacity, was the response.
Councillor Neil Middleton said: “If these new homes all go ahead it will only restore the population to what it was at its peak which is the principle this council has been working to.”
However, councillor Mary Ponsonby questioned his arithmetic saying that at its population peak most households only had one car whereas nowadays some had up to four vehicles vying for off-road parking.
There were calls to resurrect plans to build a road across the moor linking Nailsea to the M5 at Clevedon,
Mr Lees said designated building land at The Causeway was fraught with problems notwithstanding a defunct sewerage works, its power lines which he couldn’t see being removed in the next decade, access problems, it is part of a flood plain, home to Nailsea Town FC and in multi-ownership.
But district and town councillor Jan Barber said she had been reassured by North Somerset Council planners ‘there are no problems’.
We shall see...
The next meeting of the Nailsea Action Group is on Monday, April 25, at 7:30pm - venue to be confirmed, cheCk with its website by clicking HERE.
Help getting on housing ladder
A former nightclub and town centre offices at Nailsea are being converted into apartments.
Redundant office space at Crown Glass shopping centre has been made into several first floor one and two-bed modern flats which are offered with 'investment potentional'.
But unsurprisingly at £125,000 most have been sold to local young people as their first homes.
Hunter Leahy held an open day at Court House, 110 High Street, which used to house market research company Martin Hamblin as its office space is also being converted into living space.
The High Street estate agents is selling 14 two-bed flats priced from £180,00 upwards with a £10,000 basement parking option on 125 year leases.
They will be ready to move into this June.
Nailsea Shoe Shop has taken up temporary residence at Colliers Walk pending a move into the empty unit at Waitrose.
The shop was operating from The Arcade but new owners Kindale Property Investors needed the space for a larger entrace to its upstairs apartments under contstruction.
Anthony Lingham and his wife Victoria Gasper hope to move into the supermarket space this summer.
It was Victoria’s mum who ran JT Shoes at Somerset Square which closed three years ago..
For the elderly the properties at Sapphire Lodge which was bult by Churchill Homes on the site of the former care home Sycamore House are selling fast.
Already 75 per cent of this development of 30 one and two-bedroom new retirement apartments priced from £272,950 for a one-bed and £408,950 for a two-bedrooms have been reserved.
And McCarthy & Stone is marketing its yet to be constructed housing at the 'former police station, Stockway South' for those aged 55+ with 'price on application'.
People in North Somerset who hope to buy their own home can get lots of advice at a home ownership event this month.
The free event, organised by North Somerset Council, will be a one-stop-shop for people who want to find out about the various options available for home ownership, including shared ownership.
The event is at Weston College's Hans Price building at Lower Church Road, Weston-super-Mare, on Wednesday, April 20, from 3-7.30pm.
Exhibitors will include representatives from the government Help To Buy mortgage guarantee scheme and housing providers who have shared ownership homes available in North Somerset.
In addition, specialist solicitors and independent financial advisors will be on hand to discuss the range of ownership options available for purchasing a home.
North Somerset Council will also launch its new First Time Buyers Loan Scheme at the event which is designed to help first time buyers afford the deposit for their first home.
Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “We want to help local people get on the property ladder and the deposit is often the biggest problem.
“We know first time buyers are facing an increasingly difficult situation but there are now several more affordable routes to home ownership than just buying outright.
"I would urge anyone who wants to know more about their options to attend this event.”
Entry to the event is free and there’s no need to make an appointment, just call in any time between 3pm and 7.30pm.
Please register for a ticket by clicking HERE.
Garden city masterplan
FACT: Nearly 1,000 new houses have to be built in Nailsea during the next 10 years.
But the problem judging from a heated Nailsea Town Council meeting this week there is a large and vocal contingent shouting Not In My BackYard.
Despite the blustery weather conditions nearly 500 residents on Tuesday and Wednesday viewed the proposals by Mactaggart & Mickel to build 450 new homes behind The Uplands on green fields at Youngwood Lane.
Public and community affairs consultants Tristan Fitzgerald Associates hosted the two dates to show a ‘garden city’ master plan with family and starter homes.
Mactaggart & Mickel strategic land manager Ken Hopkins said: “We have been talking to North Somerset Council for two and half years about the options for developing this site.”
With the district council currently putting forward its preferred development sites Mr Hopkins added: “We thought it was appropriate for the people of Nailsea to be aware of all the options for building.”
And on Wednesday evening hundreds more turned up at the Tithe Barn to voice their opposition to sell land at Engine Lane to Barratt Homes for a further 185 houses.
However, at times the meeting which was standing room only swayed between raucous and rowdy to downright rude.
And every conceivable reason in Christendom was given to why Nailsea shouldn’t have any more houses.
From flooding to uncharted mine workings, from dangerous single file country lanes to a health service under pressure, the list was endless.
On the other side of the coin the meeting heard fears that schools and shops would close and even more young people would move away if the town didn’t provide a limited amount of affordable homes.
Amid the insults flying on Wednesday night were cries of ‘Machiavellians’, ‘traitors’, ‘sheep’ ‘it this a dictatorship’ and ‘shame, shame, shame’.
The town council which stands to net £4 million by the sale was accused of being ‘blinded by money’ and negating on promises.
It was hard not to feel some sympathy for councillor Liz Frappell who in her 70 years has seen a rural village grow from 3,000 to 15,000.
She said to those opposed to building more homes: “I have heard these arguments so many times before.
“As a child I used to keep my pony where Waitrose supermarket was built and I didn’t like the Mizzymead housing estate being built in the 1960s.
“But we have had to put up with it over the years.
“I am for selling Engine Lane – grazing cattle on the field is not good use of the land.
“If we sell we can buy a community centre for the old and a youth club for the young.
“For those of you who have only been here 20 years have a thought for those who cannot afford to buy houses in our town now.”
Developers are targeting the west side of the town having been thwarted over the years in their attempts to build on Morgan’s Hill and Yeo Valley and the green belt is stopping any more homes on the Wraxall edge of Nailsea.
Chairman David Packham said at a November meeting it was agreed by just one vote to sell the Engine Lane site subject to planning permission and the proceeds reinvested in the town.
Horse lover Diane Millward said: “This is madness, madness.
“Let people walk out to West End, enjoy the countryside and bridle paths.”
West End resident Julia Miners express fears another 1,000 cars could be using the shortcut to the motorway.
She said: “At the moment we get a vehicle at peak traffic times every 45 seconds, it is really dangerous.”
Councillor James Tonkin tried to remind the public gallery that it was only Engine Lane on the agenda but protestors were having none of that and insisted on discussing the principle of more houses for the town which by government decree is non-negotiable.
Alan Tyrell, of The Bramleys, said building in this corner of Nailsea far from the town centre would curtail any expansion of sports facilities for young people.
Worries were expressed about the rundown High Street with its ‘plethora of charity shops’ and the lack of decent restaurants or upmarket shops.
To huge applause Mr Tyrell added: “One of the reasons the Lidl discount store was thrown out was because of 37 car parking spaces being lost, well you are going to need a darn sight more than 37 car parking spaces in the town centre with these extra houses.”
Despite having a ‘collective responsibility’ several councillors distanced themselves from the decision to sell Gaulacre sold for housing.
Nailsea Action Group chairman Matthew Thomas said: “This land has been designed for housing because this town council put it up for sale – it wouldn’t be there otherwise.”
Engine Lane resident Michele Eaton-Betts said: “No, no, no – this is morally wrong.
“We should ask the Secretary of State to call any planning application in because no-one asked the people of Nailsea.”
Former chairman Mary Ponsonby and her daughter and fellow councillor Jane Holt said they would oppose the land sale at every stage.
Mrs Holt said: "I shall keep saying no, no, no, until someone listens."
But council vice chairman Clare Hunt said it was lack of financial commitment in the past by certain councillors which stopped a nature reserve going ahead and made a passionate plea for the audience to think of those unable to afford a house of their own.
Councillor Anita Heappey spoke of the back roads being used as rat runs to the Bristol, Bath and motorway and dubbed them ‘a serious accident waiting to happen’.
She called for road improvements before new homes.
Council Jeremy Blatchford said: “There is very little reason to shop in Nailsea apart from going to Waitrose or Tesco – we have to give people a reason to shop locally.”
While councillor Rod Lees saying starter homes were vital to keep our young people in the town councillor Saeeda Jameel didn’t like what Barratt was putting forward.
She said; “It is the same old style of development and it lacks imagination and foresight.”
She urged for the land ‘to be retained for perpetuity as we cannot control want is build here’.
Councillor Phil Barclay slammed the district council for its ‘intransigence’ for not reviewing the Green Belt so that houses could be built on the north east side of Nailsea towards Wraxall.
Councillor Jan Barber said: “It should remain an open space as promised – I think many councillors are blinded by a large amount of money.”
Councillor Neil Middleton said: “This town is declining and its population is getting older - the viability of the secondary school especially its sixth form is in question.”
And he cited Gaulacre as the only prospect to meet government imposed targets.
The council then went into close session but Nailsea People understand no decision was made.
To read about all the sites under consideration for building in Nailsea and see a map scroll down this page.
Seven weeks to have your say...
A draft plan identifying the sites needed to meet North Somerset’s housing requirement goes out to public consultation this week.
A seven-week consultation period on the draft Site Allocations Plan will run from Thursdays, March 10- April 28.
Details of the plan and how to comment online are at North Somerset Council website by clicking HERE.
Copies of the plan will also be available in all North Somerset’s libraries.
A number of drop-in sessions have been arranged by the council where residents can find out more about the plan and make their views known. These will be at:
Weston Library, Monday, March 21, 4-7pm
Nailsea Library, Tuesday, March 22, 4-7pm
Churchill Primary School, Wednesday, March 23, 4.30-7pm
Portishead Library, Thursday, March 24, 4-7pm
Clevedon Library, Tuesday, March 29, 4-7pm
Congresbury School Rooms, Wednesday, March 30, 4-7pm
Yatton Library, Thursday, March 31, 4-7pm
Winscombe Community Centre, Monday, April 4, 4-7pm.
Following the consultation period the plan will be finalised and submitted to a government inspector for examination. The inspector will then make his recommendations before the plan is formally adopted by the council in April next year.
As well as identifying existing and new sites for residential and employment uses, the draft plan also puts forward a number of ‘Local Green Space’ sites and ‘strategic gaps’ for protection from any development.
The plan has been drawn up following the Government’s decision that the number of houses to be built in North Somerset during the Core Strategy period of 2006-2026 should be increased to 20,985.
So far, since the start of the plan period, a total of 7,426 houses have been built in the district, leaving another 13,559 homes to deliver over the remaining 11 years of the plan.
Of these, 11,844 already have planning consent or are identified in previous plans, meaning sites still need to be found for a further 1,715 homes.
The plan says this shortfall can be met without needing to encroach on Green Belt land.
From left clockwise inaugural meeting Nailsea Action Group at Mizzymead Recreation Centre, second January meeting at Grove Sports & Social Club, NAG chairman and secretary Matthew and Tracey Thomas and land off Youngwood Lane not including in new Core Strategy proposals which go to North Somerset Council executive on Tuesday, February 2, and if approved out to public consultation for six weeks
Nailsea residents oppose new homes
North Somerset MP Liam Fox has waded into row about proposed new housing in Nailsea by voicing fears of flooding to the district council chief executive.
Dr Fox has written to North Somerset Council CEO Michael Jackson asking for clarification on its intentions for Engine Lane.
He said: “As you know, there has been a considerable amount of controversy in Nailsea following the town council’s apparent wish to have housing built at Engine Lane.”
Dr Fox asked about a covenant on the land which safeguarded it for leisure use, buried gas pipes and hidden mine workings but mostly the worries about the high water table on the farmland.
He said; “When the gas supply was being taken from Kenn Moor past Nailsea & Backwell Rugby Club some years ago there were problems resulting from the very high water table and I imagine that this would again be an area where substantial surveying would be required in advance of any potential housing application.”
Nearly 100 people turned up when Nailsea Action Group held its second public meeting this week to oppose new building on countryside around the town.
Mostly made up of residents of Engine Lane they learned that North Somerset Council had earmarked three principle sites in Nailsea to build nearly 1,000 new homes by 2026 some on the edge of the Somerset Levels.
The main areas at risk (scroll down to see map) are:
Land at Engine Lane, Nailsea;
Land at Station Road, Nailsea;
Land south of The Uplands, Nailsea; and
Land at West End, Nailsea.
But despite developers looking at options to build 450 dwellings on land east of Netherton Wood Lane and north of Youngwood Lane this area isn’t designated for building in the near future.
NAG chairman Matthew Thomas said that the group do recognise the need for future housing development but they are questioning the location and scale of the development.
Mr Thomas said with Engine Lane the impact on services including transport and the environmental consequences of building on the green fields had not been fully considered.
And he questioned whether Nailsea Town Council has acted properly when making its decision to negotiate with housing giants Barratt Homes and if they should complain about maladministration to the ombudsman.
The town council purchased a 10 acre site at Engine Lane seven years ago at a cost of £114,000 with a view to using it for sporting and recreational facilities.
If sold for housing the deal could net the town council £4 million.
The land is currently let to a farmer to graze animals and also includes a further four acres which is leased to Nailsea and Backwell Rugby Club.
This is used by the junior sports section and would also be included in the sale.
If the deal goes ahead rugby club land would be replaced from an adjoining field.
The town council has appointed professional advisors to fully explore the potential of selling off the site.
If agreed the development could see up to 185 homes built - aimed at families and young people - on Engine Lane.
NAG chairman Matthew Thomas said: "This much loved and well used site was originally purchased by the council to be safeguarded for recreational use by local residents.
"We believe that the proposed development will impact on the day to day life of the whole community and damage our rural landscape.
"The Nailsea Action Group will fight to protect our rural landscape and quality of life in Nailsea.
"We would urge local residents who share our views to come along to future meetings to learn more about how we can fight these plans."
The town council has been concerned for many years that the population of the town is declining and the age profile is rapidly moving towards older age groups threatening the viability of its shops and schools.
Money from the sale of the land would go to the town council and used on other projects in the town.
Dr Fox added: “There is no doubt that we need affordable housing in the area, so that young people from the town are going to be able to continue to live here.
“Given the distance from facilities in the centre of Nailsea, however, this site would seem to be quite unsuited for this purpose and were any development to take place it would seem to be better suited for family accommodation.”
A 106 planning agreement would also be drawn up by the developers and North Somerset Council, with further cash being earmarked for improvements in Nailsea.
North Somerset Council Core Strategy planning blueprint had put forward plans for 14,000 homes to be built across the district by 2026 but a government planning inspector ruled this now needs to increase to 21,000.
After its inaugural meeting at Mizzymead Recreation Centre a second NAG meeting was at Grove Sports & Social Club on Wednesday evening, January 27.
It was agreed to formally ask Nailsea Town Council to put Engine Lane back on its agenda when a delegation from NAG could be present.
New neighbours for Nailsea people
A draft plan identifying the sites needed to meet North Somerset housing requirement will be considered by the council's executive on Tuesday, February 2.
Looks like Nailsea could get another 1,000 by 2026.
There is a meeting on Wednesday, January 27, at Grove Sports & Social Club starting at 7pm called by action group against Youngwood Lane houses..
District councillors will be asked to approve the draft Site Allocations Plan for public consultation.
The plan has been drawn up following the Government's decision that the number of houses to be built in North Somerset during the Core Strategy period of 2006-2026 should be 20,985.
So far, since the start of the plan period, a total of 7,426 houses have been built in the district, leaving another 13,559 homes to deliver over the remaining 10 years of the plan.
Of these, 11,844 already have planning consent or are identified in previous plans, meaning sites need to be found for a further 1,715 homes.
The plan says this shortfall can be met without needing to encroach on Green Belt land.
The majority of the development will take place at Weston-super-Mare, although to meet the five-year housing supply a number of new and readily available housing sites in Yatton, Congresbury, Churchill, Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead have been identified.
No new sites are proposed adjacent to settlements in the Green Belt such as Pill, Easton-in-Gordano or Long Ashton.
It takes the total number of new homes identified to 21,250 – ‘a small surplus over the Core Strategy target of 20,985 which allows for a small amount of flexibility,’says the report to councillors.
The report adds: "The focus of the search for the majority of new development is on Weston-super-Mare (in particular the town centre), followed by the towns of Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead and then the nine service villages (Backwell, Banwell, Churchill, Congresbury, Easton-in-Gordano/Pill, Long Ashton, Winscombe, Wrington and Yatton).
“Infill villages are less sustainable locations for additional housing development. Green Belt protection is maintained."
To ensure ‘balanced growth’ the draft plan identifies a number of sites in the main towns where mixed use - residential, employment, retail and community use - is encouraged.
The plan allocates over 86 hectares of employment land and safeguards a number of well-established employment areas from alternative uses.
The plan also identifies land safeguarded for community uses."The provision of adequate community facilities in areas of new development contributes significantly to the quality of life of residents and visitors," says the report to executive.
A number of Local Green Space sites are proposed in the plan enabling communities, through local and neighbourhood plans, to identify green areas of particular importance to them for protection.
"The council will protect strategic gaps to help retain the separate identity, character and/or landscape setting of settlements and distinct parts of settlements," says the report.
If the draft plan is approved for consultation by the executive, there will be a six-week public consultation period before the plan is finalised and submitted to a government inspector for examination.
The inspector will then make his recommendations before the plan is formally adopted by the council in April next year.
The full reports going to executive meeting can be viewed by clicking HERE.
A number of 'strategic gaps' are also identified in the plan between the following places:
Weston, Hutton, Locking and Parklands Village
Weston and Uphill
Weston and St Georges
Congresbury and Yatton
Nailsea and Backwell.
The new sites for the towns are:
Land at Churchill Avenue, Clevedon;
Land at Engine Lane, Nailsea;
Land at Station Road, Nailsea;
Land south of The Uplands, Nailsea;
Land at West End, Nailsea;
Land at Downside, Portishead;
Land at Bridgwater Road, Weston-super-Mare; and
Land north of Oldmixon Road, Weston-super-Mare.
The new sites for the villages are:
Land at Cobthorn Way, Congresbury;
Land at Pudding Pie Lane (East and West), Churchill;
Land at Says Lane, Churchill; and
Arnolds Way (Phase 2), Yatton Moor Road, Yatton North End, Yatton.