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Is Bleadon set to be the next Brean Tourist and Leisure Area

Posted on 13th August, 2017

 

Water Park

 

UPDATE 7 Oct 17 - Application changed to "Proposed change of use of land from camp site to the siting of 40 no. static and touring caravans" Deadline for comments changed to 9 Oct 17.

 

The Mercury has published an article on the £5 million Riverside Holiday Village/Purn Caravan Park expansion stating that "The park has a current capacity of up to 400 people, across the campsite and in static and touring caravans."  The site has "seen £7 million invested into its facilities in the past few years, including the construction of a new bar, restaurant and swimming pool complex.West Country Parks, who own 9 caravan parks in North Somerset area, are now looking to expand the 163 unit site at Bleadon by a further 90 units taking two years to complete. So, if 163 units represents 400 people what will the additional 90 units plus additional visitors to the site represent with regards to people, cars, traffic, noise and light pollution in Bleadon? This doesn't include potential issues relating to the additonal 57 units or the Wake Park approved next door to the site. Current views of the site, surrounding fields and developments can be seen on the main BOB Blog.

 

This is a multi-million pound development by a regional company affecting our community in many ways. Bleadon Parish Council (BPC) has submitted 'no objection' to this and various applications making up the all year round 300+ caravans and Wake Park proposed at this Accommodation Road/A370 location. They seem unconcerned that the green field sites are being covered with hardstanding and that public rights of way (PROW) and Sites of Nature & Conservation Interest (SNCI) are being destroyed, and wildlife disturbed, to make it happen. We feel that the Bleadon's adopted Parish Plan 2009-2029, representing the views of 60% of residents, has a different view of the future of Bleadon than the one submitted by councillors (For replies to the Parish Plan Questionnaire and associated statistics see http://www.bleadon.org.uk/parishplan). For example:

  • Question 14 'Should Tourism development/attractions be encouraged in and around Bleadon?' Out of 461 responses only 22% were in favour. [Strongly in favour 8.242% (38), In Favour 13.88% (64), No strong opinion 14.09% (65), Have Reservations 26.24% (121), Definitely Not 37.52% (173)]. We feel that this clearly shows a lack of public support for any expansion.  
  • Question 44:'How important is it to you that countryside is maintained between Weston and Bleadon? Out of 572 responses 97% thought it was highly significant to maintain the countryside (Very important 87.06% (498) Important 10.31% (59) Not important 1.048% (6) No opinion 1.573% (9)).  

From BOB feedback some residents are unaware of the extent of this application and the developers intention to promote it as a large tourist destination in WSM and the wider North Somerset area. As far as we know there has not been any local consultation on this significant application put out by BPC that shows whether the majority of residents now support this application, nor has there been a specific agenda item, Parish Newsletter information or other public awareness regarding BPC's 'vision' of Bleadon at the Accommodation Road/A370 area, or indeed anywhere else in Bleadon. So, how are councillors deciding the majority view of residents when submitting responses to these types of developments on our behalf?

 

What is BPC/NSC's plan for the other fields in the area, especially along the A370? Is Bleadon to become a countryside version of Brean as a busy tourist and leisure destination? The developers application support information can be seen here but below are some extracts:

  • (7.00) " Conclusion. The proposal to extend Purn Holiday Park to include a further 90 pitches with associated leisure facilities is a massive vote of confidence in the holiday industry in North Somerset. The development will be a huge investment for the applicant which will boost the local economy during construction and perpetuity. This assessment demonstrates that in flooding terms there is no better site for this development and  that the proposals will be safe from flooding both for visitors and property and will not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere". If there is 'no better site' other than the ones in the Accommodation Rd/A370 area what will happen to the adjacent fields in the future if this becomes a highly popular tourist destination?
  • (6.00) "The development includes a number of leisure facilities that will foster a stay on site holiday experience." How does this equate to "boosting the local economy"? What does 'local economy' mean Bleadon's, WSM's, North Somerset's, Sedgemoor's? (It has been stated that this development will potentially create short term construction jobs and 9 full time jobs subsequently).
  • (4.06 & 6.00) The applicant proposes the use of Bleadon Hill as a place of safety and a route of escape should flooding occur!! How would this physically happen?
  • (6.00) "Easy access to the A370 and M5. This will reduce travelling time to and from the site and associated congestion. it will also accommodate overnight visits from holiday makers travelling down the M5 to Devon and Cornwall."
  • (5.00) It suggests that the site can used as a base for tourist attractions in WSM, Burnham-on-Sea and Brean and is therefore ideal for tourism industry of this size, especially as the extended park will be close to the new water park. This would greatly change the character of our rural community.
  • (5.00) It states that the 'search area principle' being used in this application was accepted for the 57 caravans at Accomodation Road. Using this reasoning what will happen to the green fields next to Purn Holiday park in the future, how long before the next development?
  • (6.00) "The development incorporates significant landscape improvements that will improve views across the site as well as support wildlife". This is a green field site that seems to have destroyed the existing SNCI and will remove the PROW and cover the land in hardstanding and vehicles, how does this improve the views towards the Mendip Hills ANOB, Brent Knoll and across the Bleadon Levels?
  • (4.02) There will be Visitor Parking for additional cars and people to the site affecting traffic, pollution, etc.

As this application is outside the current Settlement Boundary/Village Fence and contrary to resident's feedback to the adopted Parish Plan, only 8 years into a 20 year plan, we feel that it should not be approved. The BPC Village Plan Meeting Leaftlet distributed to all residents stated "Your views are very important, please don't complain about the future direction the village takes if you couldn't be bothered to let people know how you feel about things that are important to you!60% of residents responded with their views subsequently incorporated into the 2009-2029 Bleadon Parish Plan. The leaflet also stated, "Everyone who lives or works in Bleadon will soon be asked how they want Bleadon to evolve in the future. This will form the Bleadon Village Plan, which will become a template for future Bleadon Parish Councils to refer to when making decisions. It will also provide guidance to North Somerset Council on how we would like to see the parish develop over the coming decades. This will be your chance to influence the decision-makers to let them know what you hold dear and the things yound like changed. We are lucky enough to live in one of the more beautiful parts of the country, with a community, which has proven itself to be very supportive to local causes. We need to protect and enhance that important village spirit."

 

Who are BPC, our elected/co-opted councillors, currently representing? BPC stated in December 2016, during the Bleadon Hill Inquiry, that they "... have been clearly told that national planning policies, driven by central government, insist that massive housing developments must be approved regardless of the wishes of any local plans that may be in place." In July 2017, for another application outside the Settlement Boundary, it was minuted "Both Cllr Porter and the Chairman informed parishioners to make individual representatives on the North Somerset Planning website and objections /comments to be based on planning reasons". It seems that it is up to residents to support our rural community status. Although the deadline for comments for the Purn Caravan Park Expansion was 7 August 2017 the NSC website states "The 'Consultation expiry date' may be extended. Relevant comments received after this date are considered and taken into account so long as they are received in good time before the final decision is made." So, if you want your views to be heard by NSC comment on their website here. Additional BOB information on this site can be found here including additional extracted statistics from the Parish Plan Questionnaire in the comments section. The deadline for comments has been extended to 9 October 2017.

 

BPC's Monday 14 August 2017 Agenda has related items reviewing and discussing where new building, large and small scale, will be permitted in Bleadon. (There is no indication as to whether these are public consultations or any associated feedback deadlines).

If residents' views in the adopted Parish Plan feedback are not taken into consideration during BPC decision making processes as confirmed by BPC this all raises the question as to whose main benefit (resident/business), and from what perspective (local/regional/national), will BPC be replying to NSC and hiring a Planning Consultant? BOB has asked BPC questions regarding items on their August Agenda.

 

For some background as to why developers continue to pressure NSC Planning please see the mapping on the Major Development page and associated table of information on BOB, including Green Belt mapping and policies/documentation. Also current developments in and around Bleadon.

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