We are campaigning to save the precious and beautiful landscape on the Weston Lower Slopes on the north western edge of the City of Bath from development.
This unspoilt, rural area is protected by international, European, national, regional and local landscape, heritage and other designations. It is also an area of high ecological importance. Nevertheless, Green Belt land at Weston has been earmarked for the development of 150 homes as part of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s proposed changes to its Core Strategy.
Over 1,000 public comments were made to the Council on its proposed changes to the Core Strategy with around 20% specifically against development at Weston; these are now with the Government’s Inspector who is preparing for the public hearings which are expected to take place in March 2014.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that development must be prevented on such extraordinary areas of our countryside and therefore the Government has a legal and moral obligation to adhere to its own policy. The NPPF also recognises the need for conserving and enhancing the historic environment.
Our campaign is to emphasise to the Government that the Weston Lower Slopes are not suitable for development on account of:
• The area’s designation as a Conservation Area within the Green Belt; it is an AONB and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (to which the Weston Lower Slopes contribute in terms of setting)
• The topography and restrictions on access making new housing untenable. Weston has known significant flooding issues and the proposed development site contains a complex labyrinth of water courses which, if tampered with, could exacerbate the situation
• The area’s recreational value in terms of the use by local people for dog walking, walking and other activities (all of which have been well documented and presented to the Council)
• It being an important habitat for rare and endangered species (for example, skylark, yellowhammer, nightingale, pipistrelle bats and long-winged conehead) with several SNCIs, the area’s ecological value is significant
• The natural desire to maintain the uninterrupted long distance views for users of the Cotswold Way national trail that passes through the area
In addition, the Council’s plans will inevitably put unacceptable pressure on the local infrastructure, particularly local roads which already suffer congestion that can interfere with emergency services at the Royal United Hospital.
Bath is a beautiful city in a unique setting where, as noted in its Conservation Area Character Appraisal, the ‘fingers of green’, such as the land around Weston, ‘extend well into the city softening and contrasting with the built form … [with] many fine views to undeveloped hillsides’ are what make it distinctive in character and significance and of such appeal to our tourist industry that is key to our local economy.
Please support us by adding your signature to our petition.