Saltford Environment Group
Saltford (Manor Road) Green Belt Inquiry (2013) - Archive
This archive page records and documents the successful 2 year defence by the community of Saltford, from 2012 until the Planning Inquiry determination in 2014, against an attempt by the developer Crest Nicholson to build on Saltford's Green Belt.
We hope other communities defending their Green Belt from speculative development will find this page and some of the key documents it contains useful.
Author of this page: Phil Harding (2014)
Saltford Green Belt Inquiry: Secretary of State determines against the development!
On 4th March (2014) the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, Eric Pickles, dismissed the appeal and REFUSED planning permission for the Crest Nicholson planning application to build up to 99 dwellings on Saltford's Green Belt fields south of Manor Road. This followed his decision in September 2013 that as the appeal involved "proposals for significant development in the Green Belt" he would determine the appeal himself.
After a defence campaign lasting two years SEG strongly welcomed this decision. The Secretary of State, on examining the evidence given at the Inquiry and the Inspector's report, overruled the Inspector's recommendation to allow the development. The Secretary of State concluded that the appeal proposals were inappropriate development in the Green Belt, harmful to the Green Belt's openness and harmful to the Green Belt's purpose of preventing encroachment into the countryside. He disagreed with the Inspector about the extent of that encroachment and attached considerable weight to that issue.
In reaching his decision, the Secretary of State said "the proposed development would result in an unacceptable reduction of the Green Belt in that area." He was also "mindful that the site lies within a substantial sub-area of Green Belt identified as strongly serving the purpose of safeguarding the countryside from encroachment, and attributes considerable weight to this issue in the planning balance."
In dismissing the appeal and refusing planning permission for up to 99 dwellings at this location and taking into account "the substantial shortage of deliverable housing land in B&NES" the Secretary of State "identified harm to the Green Belt's openness and harm to the Green Belt's purpose of preventing encroachment into the countryside". Furthermore he attached "considerable weight" about the "extent of that encroachment" and that this "represents considerable harm, to which he attributes substantial weight."
The DCLG decision letter of 4.3.2014 giving the reason for the Secretary of State's dismissal of the appeal and not allow the development to proceed can be found on the Government's planning portal from this link: Appeal Case APP/F0114/A/13/2195351 - PCS Portal.
SEG wishes to thank everyone who joined the campaign to oppose the proposed housing development on Saltford's Green Belt. We especially wish to recognise and thank the Saltford Green Belt Campaign for helping to demonstrate the residents' opposition to building on Saltford's Green Belt.
We would also like to thank local councillors from all political parties who opposed this planning application, our MP Jacob Rees-Mogg for his advice and support, B&NES Council Planning Department for its work relating to this Inquiry, and also our Parish Council for its support.
FURTHER & BACKGROUND INFORMATION
SEG's evidence and other key documents for the Inquiry can be found if you scroll further down this page.
For photographs from the Appeal Inquiry & related local media coverage further down this page click here.
For background information on the planning application and the significant campaign in Saltford to stop this inappropriate development click here.
SEG's evidence and related key documents for the 4-day Public Appeal Inquiry held in Keynsham (13-16 August 2013)
Our evidence was presented at the Inquiry held in Keynsham from 14 to 16 August 2013 by Phil Harding, Chairman of SEG, on behalf of SEG and the Saltford Green Belt Campaign. This included a specially commissioned Sustainability Appraisal of the planning application.
The case made by our evidence gave two key reasons why we were against this proposed development on our Green Belt:
You can download our evidence here. These documents open in a new window (most recent listed first):-
Saltford Green Belt Campaign's Window Poster
You can download here the poster from SGBC:
Planning Application Information on B&NES website
The original Planning Application Documents on the B&NES Planning website can be found from this link:-
Related local media coverage, photographs etc.
"Destroying green belt agricultural land for immediate economic gain is like burning your children's inheritance to cook a single meal" - Phil Harding, Chairman, SEG (August 2013)
We received ITV West news coverage (no longer available online) on the day the Inquiry opened (13.8.2013). You can read the transcript of the live radio interview of our advocate, Phil Harding, which he gave to BBC Radio Bristol on the same afternoon that the 4 day Inquiry proceedings ended (16.8.2013): Interview Transcript - 16.8.2013 (pdf 37kb - opens in new window).
Background information and campaign to defend Saltford's Green Belt
In the spring of 2012 Saltford became aware of a planning application being prepared by Crest Nicholson to build a housing estate on fields south of Manor Road, Saltford, within Saltford's Green Belt. The following is a timeline account of what happened...
On 1st & 2nd October 2012 Crest Nicholson's agents, Pegasus Planning Group, held a public exhibition at the Golf Club in Saltford having invited local residents to attend. Many concerns were expressed by residents and SEG about this proposal; these were made known to Pegasus at the exhibition and in discussions within the community.
The planning application (ref: 12/05315/OUT dated 1.12.2012) was submitted to B&NES Council on 1 December 2012 for "the erection of up to 99 no. residential dwellings and associated parking; 1 no. vehicular access from Manor Road and separate pedestrian access to Manor Road; associated engineering works and the construction of 2 no. car parking lay-bys on Manor Road."
The proposed development site was on 3.4 hectares of Saltford's Green Belt. It was outside of the housing development boundary, classed as Agricultural Land Class 1, 2, 3a, (i.e. 'Best and Most Versatile' land) and within the Forest of Avon area. The location was the fields opposite the school playing field, south of Manor Road.
At its meeting on 16.12.2012, SEG's Executive Committee took the unanimous decision that it was against this planning application - the proposed development was NOT sustainable development. We then published guidance on our website on how residents could submit an objection to B&NES.
Over 150 residents attended the public meeting arranged by Saltford Parish Council on the evening of Saturday 5.1.2013. The meeting was held in Saltford Hall to give residents the opportunity to voice their opinions, hear the opinions of others, and influence our Parish Council.
Many residents spoke to voice their objection and urged the Parish Council to submit a strong objection to B&NES (only one spoke in favour...) and when a show of hands was sought at the end of the meeting, 156 voted against the planning application and just 1 voted in favour. At its meeting 3 days later on the evening of 8.1.2013, Saltford Parish Council voted unanimously to oppose the planning application.
982 residents of Saltford signed the petition organised by the specially formed 'Saltford Green Belt Campaign' to show their complete opposition to the Crest Nicholson proposal to build 99 dwellings on Saltford's Green Belt. On 4th January 2013, before all the signatures had finally been received, the petition was handed by campaign representatives to local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who agreed to present the petition to Parliament on their behalf, and also to B&NES Council at the Guildhall in Bath.
Local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg accepts 900 signature petition against development on Saltford's Green Belt from representatives of the Saltford Green Belt Campaign outside the Guildhall, Bath on 4th January 2013. Pictured with Jacob are (left to right) Kathy Headford, Jane Stonehouse, Beverley Peters and Adrian Betts.
On 13.2.2013 the Pegasus Group, on behalf of Crest Nicholson, submitted alternative outline proposals to B&NES Council to deliver no less than 72 dwellings (and up to 99 dwellings as originally applied for).
In their alternative proposal for 72 dwellings, Pegasus acknowledged that there was a "large amount of public objection" to this development in Saltford. The revised proposals did not address the many issues for which 412 planning objections had been submitted and the proposed development could not be described as sustainable development for the reasons and concerns SEG and residents had made known.
SEG responded to the revised proposals by submitting a revision to our original objection to B&NES Council:
"Further to Saltford Environment Group's original objection to this proposed development on 3rd January 2013, that still stands, we wish to add the following important point. This proposed development, if permitted, would undermine the draft Core Strategy currently under discussion by B&NES Council. The housing requirement and housing land supply in the draft Core Strategy, that has undergone a Sustainability Appraisal, does not include development on Saltford's Green Belt."
Subsequently, the Parish Council's Planning Committee considered the revised application at its meeting on 19.3.2013. Following presentations from representatives of SEG, the Saltford Green Belt Campaign and other residents, the Committee unanimously voted to object to the revised application and in doing so to strengthen its original objection while also highlighting to B&NES Council that this planning application contravened the draft Core Strategy.
412 planning objections were submitted by 500 individuals and organisations to B&NES Council. In addition, 982 residents of Saltford signed the petition organised by the 'Saltford Green Belt Campaign' to show their complete opposition to this proposed development on Saltford's Green Belt. This demonstrated the strength of feeling in Saltford against this unsuitable development that could be the start of a major loss of Saltford's Green Belt.
B&NES Council announced on 4.4.2013 that an Appeal had been made by Crest Nicholson to the Planning Inspectorate in respect of their planning application (ref no. 12/05315/OUT) to build up to 99 houses on Green Belt fields by Manor Road. Crest Nicholson's request that the Appeal shall be dealt with by an Inquiry was agreed by the Planning Inspectorate.
The appeal was against the failure of the Local Planning Authority (i.e. B&NES) to give notice of its decision within the appropriate 8 week period on an application for permission or approval.
On 12.4.2013 SEG and the Saltford Green Belt Campaign agreed to form a partnership to work together for making a strong representation to the Inquiry and to liaise with our Parish Council and B&NES.
On 18.4.2013 the Government's Planning Inspectorate accepted the joint application from SEG and the Saltford Green Belt Campaign under Rule 6(6) of the Inquiries Procedure Rules concerning the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to be a party to the Inquiry for submitting evidence before and during the Inquiry.
Rule 6 status meant we would be considered to be a main party, we would be sent copies of the documents submitted by the other main parties and would be entitled to appear at the Inquiry and to cross-examine other parties.
The planning application from Crest Nicholson was formally considered by the Development Control Committee of B&NES Council at its monthly meeting on 8th May 2013. The Council's Planning Officers had recommended to the committee that B&NES Council should refuse the planning application as: "This is inappropriate development in the Green Belt that will affect its openness and would be contrary to the Green Belt purpose of safeguarding the countryside from encroachment. The Presumption of Sustainable Development does not apply here, even where a 5 year housing supply against an adopted Local Plan cannot be demonstrated."
Speakers against the planning application were: Duncan Hounsell for the Parish Council; Phil Harding on behalf of SEG and the Saltford Green Belt Campaign (Phil's 3 minute speech can be found above in the key documents section; and Mathew Blankley as one of Saltford's B&NES Councillors.
The Development Control Committee then voted unanimously to refuse the application; this would be their position at the Inquiry (13th August 2013) and was a welcome result for our campaign to protect Saltford's Green Belt.
On 10th May 2013 SEG submitted our "Statement of Case" on behalf of SEG and the Green Belt Campaign to the Planning Inspectorate. This informed the Inspector of the topics/themes we would present to the Inquiry as our evidence and the case we would make.
The Appeal Inquiry was held over four days (13-16 August 2013) at Fry Club & Conference Centre, Somerdale, Keynsham. The Inspector was Mr John L Gray DipArch MSc Registered Architect.
On 2.9.2013 local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote to Secretary of State Eric Pickles expressing his concerns about the ramifications of proceeding with this development in the Green Belt referring to representations from constituents including a meeting he had held (on 31.8.2013) with Phil Harding (Chairman, SEG) and Cllr Mathew Blankley (Chairman, Saltford Parish Council).
Secretary of State Eric Pickles announced on 18.9.2013, that as "the appeal involves proposals for significant development in the Green Belt" he would determine the appeal himself.
The Appeal Inquiry evidence and Inspector's report were examined by the Secretary of State over a four month period after the Inspector submitted his report in October 2013.
On 4 March 2014 Secretary of State Eric Pickles dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission. This was six months after the end of the Appeal Inquiry, and two years after Saltford first became aware of the proposed development.
© Saltford Environment Group and Phil Harding