BaNES Green Party Oppose Development On South Stoke Plateau

14 November 2023

Bath and North East Somerset Green Party are opposed to a planning application submitted by The Hignett Family Trust to build more houses on South Stoke plateau, on the southern edge of Bath.

The proposed development on a number of grounds, including:

  • a lack of mixed-use planning - we need to reduce dependence on cars and try to ensure that people live within fifteen minutes walk or active travel to their work and essential services. This is necessary if we have any hope not only to meet the council’s own goals for traffic and air quality targets, but tackling climate change
  • the number of additional houses will put pressure on local schools. This does not seem to be addressed in the plans. Odd Down is a relatively poor ward in Bath and the existing schools have a large percentage of pupils from poorer backgrounds and with additional needs. They are already struggling with staffing and funding, and there is little scope for hundreds of additional families
  • under-delivery of affordable and social  housing - there is a low percentage of proposed affordable housing. Additionally, there is no council housing. There should be no large-scale developments in BaNES until the chronic shortage of affordable and council housing is addressed
  • previous commitments to space for ‘additional green infrastructure’ for the development seem to have been ignored with these areas being proposed for housing
  • there seems to have been little thought given to proper and sustainable disposal of waste water and run-off. This is a significant and dangerous oversight with rainfall likely to increase significantly in the future
  • the roads near the site are already congested, especially at peak hours. The inclusion of a large number of parking spaces on the development, the inclusion of nothing but housing, and little to no thought given to other transport options, means that the load roads will inevitably become even more congested

As well as the specific problems mentioned, the development will of course have adverse effects on wildlife and necessitate the destruction of protected species' habitats. A large area currently vital for wildlife is going to be lost, include a large namer of mature trees protected by Tree Preservation Orders.

The proposed housing also has disappointingly low standards for insulation, water use and energy self-sufficiency. These standards for the proposed housing are not fit for purpose given both what we know about how we have to tackle the climate crisis and the volatile prices of energy that are likely to get worse.

The South Stoke plateau, located within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and near the World Heritage City of Bath, is a sensitive area with cultural and historical significance. It is not appropriate for large-scale non-mixed development. The initial plan for around 300 houses seems to have been allowed to swell to a total of around 500.

While we are aware that there is a shortage of housing in general, no permission for new houses should be granted while any existing properties remain empty. The council must exhaust all options for compulsory purchase of existing properties before building more. If any development is needed there is also a large amount of brownfield land that should always be developed before we lose more greenfield sites.

The application makes use of flawed traffic monitoring methods, biodiversity net gain calculations, and features unsuitable mitigation sites for wildlife.

It is important that developments like this allow local people real input. They are well placed to know issues around any given site, but in this case the consultation and engagement process was poor. This planning application was developer-driven, lacked proper community engagement, and faces widespread opposition due to its potential severe impact on the local road network, landscape, biodiversity, and services.

Finally, the proposed development does not comply with several national and local policies, including the council’s own policies for development under the Bath and NE Somerset Local Plan [2]. We call for the application to be entirely rejected.

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