Battle begins to prevent building on golf course

June 26 2014

PROTESTERS have sent out a warning to potential buyers of Shortwood Lodge Golf Club: We will stand in the way of any development plans.

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PROTESTERS have sent out a warning to potential buyers of Shortwood Lodge Golf Club: We will stand in the way of any development plans.

The 148-acre site is up for sale and is being marketed by agents Knight Frank as ‘a strategic development opportunity’.

But residents and nature lovers say the land is green belt and should be protected.

Knight Frank’s literature says the land is being offered in two lots - the entire site for a guide price of £4.5m or a 35-acre ‘relatively flat’ parcel of land for £2.5m.

The golf course is not included in South Gloucestershire Council’s Core Strategy, a plan which sets out how and where the district will see housing and industrial development.

Last week campaigners turned up at the 18-hole golf club to make sure their voices were heard. They also wanted it make it clear that anyone who buys the land with the intention of developing it will have a fight on their hands.

The protest was organised by Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore who said: “As the local MP, and chair of the all-party group on the green belt, together with local campaigners, we want to send a message that the land is green belt land, and therefore protected. It is not in South Gloucestershire Council’s Core Strategy for development, so cannot be built upon.

“The new planning framework put in place by the Government is very clear that green belt is to be protected. Since 2010, and the abolition of the regional spatial strategy that placed green belt under threat, there have been no applications to build on green belt in the Kingswood constituency. South Gloucestershire Council has now adopted its Core Strategy which further protects the Kingswood green belt.”

The Tory MP said campaigners mean business. “This seems like an attempt to lift the value of the sale, but any potential buyers should be aware that as green belt land, development will not be permitted by the council and as the local MP, I have always been consistently determined to fight on behalf of local residents to protect our green belt land.”

One protester, John Hopes, a resident and chairman of Siston Parish Council, said: “If a developer did manage to get planning permission for the site it would be devastating to the area.

“It is green belt and an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s also adjoining Forestry Commission land which means you have to consider wildlife. There’s a great variety of wildlife between Siston and the ring road including deer and birds. The green belt must be looked after. “There is such a heavy urbanised area in the Kingswood district, if this is suddenly built over, where can people go for open air apart from the odd park?

“On weekends dozens of families travel down and park up around the commons for walks or to walk their dogs. The green space is valuable. We have to make a stand somewhere.

If we do it now, it will show any potential developer that they can’t just walk in and do what they want.” Mr Hopes said people were fed up with huge developers riding roughshod over communities. “From other developments in the area, developers don’t seem to have any interest whatsoever in the local environment and people. For example, the Siston Hill Farm development off Carson’s Road doesn’t even have a bus because the streets were built so narrow. That’s hopeless; what are you going to do if you are a family without a car? “I live nearby and every day I see people walking down to the bus stop on Anchor Road because they have nothing nearer. They’ve got no services or community centre; there’s nothing there for them and it’s wrong to isolate people like that. 

There was no consideration there whatsoever. It was opposed by the parish council and South Gloucestershire Council but it was taken to the Home Office and just went through.”