'Victory' as Saltford green-belt homes are rejected by government minister

March 06 2014
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A developer's bid to build up to 100 homes on green-belt land at Saltford have been thrown out by Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

A developer's bid to build up to 100 homes on green-belt land at Saltford have been thrown out by Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

Crest Nicholson's proposals for the site at Manor Road had been strongly opposed by many residents of the village, local environmental campaigners and councillors.

Cabinet Minister Mr Pickles stepped in to decide the fate of the application himself after a request from local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, highlighting the strength of feeling in the village over the loss of green belt.

Phil Harding, of Saltford Environment Group, said he welcomed the decision on behalf of the group and they wanted to thank everyone who joined the Saltford Green Belt Campaign.

He added: As we have reported on our website in recent weeks, we are conscious that there may be further attempts by developers to build on our green belt. This important decision by the Secretary of State does show that the community was right to defend Saltford’s Green Belt. We hope progress on the Core Strategy can be made rapidly so that we do not face a similar situation again."

A four-day public inquiry into the proposals was held last summer, with more than 100 residents attending the first day with placards and banners calling for the green-belt site to be protected.

The developer took its plans to appeal after B&NES Council failed to meet its own deadline to issue a decision. The authority subsequently rejected the proposals, and challenged them at the inquiry.

Saltford councillors Francine Haeberling and Matthew Blankley hailed Mr Pickles' decision a victory for the community.

Councillor Haeberling said: “This is absolutely fantastic news and will come as a great relief to residents in the village.  The green belt which protects the open countryside around Saltford must remain sacrosanct.  This green belt acts as a protective barrier against the A4 becoming one large urban conurbation, and so I’m extremely pleased that this has clearly been recognised by the Communities Secretary in reaching his decision.

“Hopefully this outcome will serve as a warning to developers that where land is designated as green belt, it must remain fully protected.”

The community had argued that local roads would not be able to cope with increased traffic from the new estate and that Saltford Primary School was already at capacity.

Duncan Hounsell, chair of Saltford Parish Council, said: "A large section of Saltford residents will be relieved by this decision which backs the stance on preserving green belt land at Saltford taken by Saltford Parish Council, B&NES Council, and local residents.
"The Saltford Green Belt Campaign and the Saltford Environment Group deserve particular praise for their efforts in defence of Saltford's green-belt land."