Show of support for Breaches Gate green belt campaign

Published on: 07 Apr 2014

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Campaigners fighting moves to earmark a swathe of green-belt land between Keynsham and Saltford for up to 250 homes have taken their case to the planning inspector.

Representatives of the Friends of Breaches Gate were due to speak out at a public hearing on April 3 into changes made to Bath and North East Somerset Council's core strategy, the blueprint that sets out where thousands of new homes will be built over the next few years.

The residents’ action group was launched last month to oppose the plans, as reported in Keynshamvoice, and has already attracted the support of more than 300 people, including residents across east Keynsham, dog walkers from the town and neighbouring Saltford and members of a local nursery who use the fields for walks.

Group co-founder Bob Elcome-Thorpe said he hoped to show the inspector that the green-belt land was playing a vital, valued role in the community, providing tranquillity, a natural boundary between town and village and was a space that had been used for recreation for more than 50 years.

He said: “This goes to the heart of what green belt is – it's not just a patch of green space that backs on to a few houses, it is a proper rural setting.

“Do we feel our generation has the right to remove it from future generations? Once houses are built the fields are gone and there is no going back from that – I think it’s wrong and we have a responsibilty to protect it.”

The group also planned to challenge the site’s suitability for development, raising concerns over the effects of increased traffic on the heavily used A4 and on local roads and increased pollution in the locality, as well as pressure on local schools and fears of an increased risk of flooding to existing homes if the fields were built on following floods in 1968 and “near misses” following the recent downpours. 

The campaigners said they had been heartened by last month’s decision by Secretary of State Eric Pickles to refuse plans for 99 homes on green-belt land at Manor Road in Saltford, following a hard-fought battle by residents.

Mr Elcome-Thorpe added: “We feel Breaches Gate is the lungs of Keynsham. “This land maintains the individuality of Saltford as a village and Keynsham as a town, and without it we would become part of a greater urban conurbation.”

The planning inspector’s hearings are due to end on April 10, with a verdict expected later in the year.

To get in touch with the Friends of Breaches Gate, email breachesgate@saveourgreenbelt.co.uk or call Friends member Peter Holland on 0117 986 9479.

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