Don Foster MP

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Beechen Cliff playing fields freed from housing threat

June 21, 2023 by admin in News

Residents in Greenway Lane and Devonshire Buildings have reason to be glad that the threat of large-scale housing development on the Beechen Cliff School lower playing fields has been lifted.

Council officers will remove the site from the so-called ‘Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment’ or SHLAA. Its inclusion in this document would have given developers the green light to talk with the school about turning this much-treasured green space into housing.

The inclusion of the site in the draft SHLAA caused much local controversy when it was first spotted in as part of the council’s draft Core Strategy in December. There had been a prolonged battle in 2006-2007 over this, when it was finally removed from the Local Plan following a long campaign by residents and councillors. An external Inspector’s report at the time concluded:

“The harm caused by development in this location to the World Heritage site, the Conservation area and local character is considered unacceptable”.

Cllr David Bellotti (Lib Dem, Lyncombe) said: “In my opinion it was misguided from the outset for the officers to re-include this site in the new SHLAA after all we had been through previously. I am delighted that it has taken the incoming administration just one month to sort this out, and thereby give local residents some peace of mind.”

Cllr Ian Gilchrist (LibDem, Widcombe) said: “In January I asked for and got reassurance from the current school Head that there were no immediate plans to sell the land. However, that does not give the same kind of confidence in the long-term security of this green space than if it is removed entirely from the Council’s register of potential housing sites. There are much more suitable opportunities for developers to pursue.”

Martin Broadbent, chair of residents’ group ‘Greenway!’ said:

“I am delighted that this green finger which links Lyncombe vale with Alexandra Park is to be preserved, and not least for the easy movement of wildlife’”

The SHLAA document can be found here, with the Beechen Cliff School site described under the reference ‘Lyn6′.