Sunday, 15 November 2015

More on consultation

Dear Resident, As you may know, last Monday the developers of the planned Sulis Down housing estate held a consultation event at St Gregory’s School at which the public were invited to comment on two options for their masterplan submission for the site. The consultation represented what was probably the last chance residents have to influence the final shape of the development before a scheme is submitted to Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES). We at the South of Bath Alliance (SOBA) are writing to you to urge you to respond by 19th November by rejecting both the proposals on the grounds that they completely fail to conform to the planning principles defined by the inspector who carried out the public enquiry into the B&NES core strategy and adopted by the council last year. In summary, both masterplans envisage up to 595 homes being built—nearly double the 300 or so specified in the core strategy. Both masterplans envisage building on the edge of the South Stoke Plateau and, in part, on the field beside the Wansdyke to the east of the present Sulis Meadows estate—areas protected in the core strategy. Masterplan 1 has the new development served by a single access road off Combe Hay Lane which, given the huge increase in the number of homes proposed, would seriously add to the traffic congestion at the Odd Down Park and Ride roundabout. Masterplan 2 envisages an additional access road off South Stoke Lane, which would mean a large increase in the number of vehicles using the Cross Keys crossroads, which would become traffic-light controlled. This access was expressly excluded from the core strategy after the planning enquiry inspector declared it detrimental to the setting of the Wansdyke, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and the Bath World Heritage Site. The inspector saw no justification for access from the east and it is considered that the case for eastern access has not been made either in terms of any benefits it might deliver or the environmental, heritage and transport impacts/harm it is likely to have. The development site is bisected by Sulis Manor and one of the options for the road linking its west and east sections incorporates Burnt House Road on the Sulis Meadows estate. This would mean hundreds more cars passing through an existing residential area. Both masterplans can be inspected on the Sulis Down website at under ‘Consultation event, November 2015’ in the News and Updates section. It is the view of B&NES officers that it has not been adequately demonstrated that 595 dwellings is deliverable on this site while meeting all of the Placemaking Principles in the site allocation policy. There is currently insufficient evidence to substantiate this scale of development and officers also question the methodology adopted to generate this number of dwellings SOBA comprises local residents’ groups and parish councils who originally opposed the building of any homes on the South Stoke Plateau but who now want to ensure that the developers—the Hignett Family Trust (HFT) and Bloor Homes—create the best possible living environment for both existing residents and those moving into the new homes. We ask you register your objections in your own words to both masterplans at!contact/cseo Points you might consider making: 1. Neither proposed masterplan complies with B&NES Adopted Core Strategy. 2. Any proposal to deliver more than 300 dwellings on the entire site would have to be supported by evidence that this could be achieved within the council’s established ‘Placemaking Principles’. No evidence to support this has yet been made public. 3. The core strategy specifically disallows development on the field adjacent to the Wansdyke. Both options encroach significantly onto this area, causing potential harm to the Scheduled Ancient Monument. 4. In both options the southern edge of the proposed development is now shown to be in the zone defined as having ‘high impact’ on the World Heritage Site and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This can only be allowed if detailed evidence is provided to support it. No such evidence has yet been submitted. This will dramatically affect views into the site from key points of public access to the south. 5. The core strategy specifically forbids any access from the east because of the risk of urbanisation of the remaining Green Belt areas of the plateau and the harmful effect this would have on the important ‘rural’ entrance to the Conservation Village of South Stoke. The presence of any form of road across the Green Belt ‘buffer zone’ at the eastern end of the plateau will lead to the coalescence of South Stoke with the City of Bath and open up the possibility of the entire plateau being developed at some time in the future. 6. Manor Farm Buildings are shown as “Sulis Down Business Village”. HFT describe this as a ‘brownfield site’, so expect to redevelop it all for commercial purposes. However, 60 per cent of the area is a green paddock that was once the South Stoke Cricket Field. It remains in the Green Belt and is therefore subject to constraints on development. It would be of particular concern to avoid any further commercially generated traffic on South Stoke Lane. For further information, contact

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