Property experts' green belt warning after uni's landmark victory
A LANDMARK High Court ruling could see green belt land around Bristol being swallowed up by huge housing estates, property experts have warned.
As reported in The Post Bristol University has won a long-running legal battle with North Somerset Council over the development of land in Long Ashton.
The university can now push ahead with a scheme which will see the land sold off to developers who want to build 1,000 new homes on the 70 hectare site to the south of the city.
But the development is likely to be the tip of the iceberg and could lead to tens of thousands of new homes being built on vacant land around the city.
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Developers are already eyeing up large parcels of land between Bristol and Keynsham as well as green belt in under developed areas.
Even though the country is still struggling to recover from the collapse of the property market there is expected to be a big increase in demand for housing in the Bristol area as the economy starts to recover from the recession.
The population of the city is expected to grow by more than 120,000 over the next decade as people come to the Bristol area to live and work.
The four councils had all been set housing targets only for the system to be scrapped by the Coalition but it now appears that they could be forced into opening up land to developers.
Each council in the area has published housing targets as part of their core strategy and under the current system 16,000 houses would have to be built in North Somerset, 23,355 in South Gloucestershire, 11,000 in Bath and North East Somerset and 23,500 in Bristol.
Planning and property firm Alder King lodged the High Court challenge against North Somerset Council's planning policy and emerged victorious.
As a result of the ruling the council will have to look again at its housing and employment growth forecasts up to 2026, taking account of the development needs of the area around Bristol as a whole.
Alder King argued that the council had only looked at demand in its own area and had failed to co-operate with other neighbouring authorities.
As a result of the ruling North Somerset will have to look again at its planning policies and identify more land for new development. The ruling is also likely to change policies in the other three areas.
Nick Tyrrell, a planning partner at Alder King, said: "This is a landmark judgment which will have implications for the whole Bristol sub-region and is bound to have repercussions elsewhere.
"It confirms our strongly-held view that city regions need to be considered in the round in order to plan for adequate housing and employment growth where a sound evidence base exists.
"It is simply not acceptable for individual councils to take a narrow view of their own growth requirements without any consideration of cross-boundary issues and the duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities. That is taking localism a step too far."
Kevin Hunt, a director at property firm Jones Lang LaSalle, also believes the ruling will have a huge impact.
He said: "This decision could have major implications for development in the green belt on the Bristol fringe. The ruling means that North Somerset will need to review the housing numbers in its Core Strategy which may increase beyond the 14,000 currently indicated.
"This would inevitably place pressure on the development of land in the green belt to meet the demand for new homes."
Judge Alice Robinson delivered the ruling in the case.
In her ruling she said: "It is possible that an alternative housing requirement figure for North Somerset excluding an urban extension may necessitate the release of land in the green belt or otherwise affect spatial or area policies of the core strategy."
North Somerset Council added it would give a fuller response once it had received the ruling in two weeks time.
The council's deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees added: "We will continue to promote our strategy of jobs-led growth in North Somerset while protecting the green belt from the threat of urban sprawl."