First, the progressive loss of chunks of the Green Belt in Ashton Vale, abandoned by the authorities who should be protecting it. Now the battle moves east, into BaNES territory between Stockwood and Whitchurch Village.
Here, developer Robert Hitchins has come back with an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against BaNES' refusal to allow a housing development of close on 300 units across the green belt pastureland that separates the two communities on this south-eastern edge of Bristol.
Big question now: is the new planning regime, with its much publicised presumption in favour of 'sustainable' development, strong enough to override the bid ?
It should be easy for the Inspector to say 'No', in spite of George Osborne's enthusiasm for removing anything that might get in the way of developers' ambitions. The National Planning Policy that finally emerged from Whitehall last month does include (at p.19) continuing protection for Green Belt land like this. For that, we can thank intensive lobbying by a number of pressure groups in the run-up to publication.
What's more, in a widely reported interview on 'Today', Planning Minister Greg Clark assured listeners that
“The word sustainable is very important, what it means is there is a test of whether it is in the public interest to approve an application. If there are reasons, it destroys the environment, if it builds on greenbelt, if it builds outside a town centre when it's a commercial premises when you want to keep a town centre thriving, that would not be sustainable, it would not be in the public interest and thereforce it would not go ahead “
The site itself is a group of three fields, criss-crossed by four public footpaths*, mostly used for grazing ponies. It's an edge-of-town location, with the neighbouring built-up area almost entirely made up of houses, so this development would simply add to an 'urban monoculture' leaving others to provide essential infrastructure such as schools, transport, etc, which are already thin on the ground, while leaving the new residents to reach employment and entertainment at considerable distance from the new estate. Sustainable, eh?
The place to tell the Inspector what you think is:
http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2174286&coid=2108736 . Closing date is May 28.
*cue, a plug for the current local walks programme – especially the one on 30th April that includes a traverse of these meadows!