Bristol University legal win could see 1,000 new homes built next to Long Ashton
Bristol University has won a court case that could lead to the village of Long Ashton almost doubling in size.
The university has succeeded in its High Court battle with North Somerset Council, centred on whether planners should approve an "urban extension" to the city of Bristol.
Bristol University owns a 70-hectare parcel of land to the south west of the city, near Long Ashton, and have been pushing planners for an 'outreach' from the city which would encompass their land, and allow them to sell it to developers as the site of 1,000 new homes.
The western border of the potential development site is Wildcountry Lane; the northern boundary is the railway line from Bristol to the southwest; and the southern border is the A370.
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However the land lies within North Somerset Council's Bristol-Bath Green Belt and, under a core strategy adopted in April last year, the Council rejected the proposed urban extension, limiting the amount of new houses to be built within the belt in the next 13 years to 14,000.
Lawyers for the University objected, arguing that plans for 26,750 new homes ought to be approved, which would pave the way for the urban extension.
Those objections were rejected by a government planning inspector, but the University brought a challenge to the Council's adoption of the policy before Judge Alice Robinson at London's High Court.
Ian Dove QC, for the University, argued that the planning inspector had "failed to give adequate reasons for his conclusion that the core strategy was sound, so far as the scale and distribution of housing development was concerned."
Judge Robinson agreed, and today allowed the University's challenge, saying: "The Inspector, in his appraisal of the Council's housing requirement figure of 14,000, failed to give adequate or intelligible reasons for his conclusion that the figure made sufficient allowance for latent demand.
"In consequence the adoption of the policy (relating to the number of new homes) of the core strategy in reliance on the Inspector's recommendation was unlawful," the judge concluded.
On its website the University states: "The proposed urban extension would include some 10,500 new homes, and the University's land could be the location for about 1,000 of those.
"This is not about making money per se....the money would be invested in the institution's charitable purposes of research and teaching."
North Somerset Council spokesman, Nick Yates, said: "We will be studying the judge's comments in detail and see what implications this has for our Core Strategy."