No!No!No!!

I make no apologies for repeating this article. If you have already supported objections – thank you. If you are unaware of this planning application and care about the Green Belt and Nature – please read on. You have until November 25th to comment.

Who would have known l would end up living in Bath and – more unusually – in the same house for eleven years. Two to three years in one place is usually more than enough. However, it has suited my husband and l to make a more permanent home which offers easy access – on foot or bicycle – to the city centre or nearby, beautiful countryside.

Our street is laid out on the lower slopes of Little Solsbury Hill and named after ferns though, apart from a couple of front gardens, there’s not much evidence of this flowerless plant with its feathery fronds.

Brick House © Bath In Time

A quick bit of research discovers our little patch of suburbia was originally known as Brick Lane and – at its upper crossroads – stood Brick House. It’s a shame both the name and imposing dwelling have long since gone.

At the bottom of our road we meet up with other incoming roadways of various size leading into Larkhall. One of those routes is called Deadmill Lane.

It’s a narrow and hedged country lane named after the Mr Deeds who used to run a flour mill which – though transformed into residential accommodation – still stands.

Between us – and the lane – lies a small patch of agricultural land which housed pigs and sheep when we arrived in this area.

Bad photo but it makes a point!

It’s been the subject of various attempts to build upon it – though it’s within the Green Belt and World Heritage site and adjoins the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

First they tried to build a new ‘village hall’, then luxury houses and, in recent years, the two owners of this patch have teamed up with a developer and made various attempts to get planning permission for multiple houses on the land.

Despite losing at a planning appeal they are back with another proposal to build fifteen ‘affordable’ homes on the field. There’s no mention of how much these homes might cost and it’s my understanding that ‘affordable’ means they have to be twenty percent below market value in terms of sale or rent.

Affordable ticks a box. It’s a trendy label to apply to a planning application in a city crying out for economic homes that ordinary, budget-pressed citizens can afford.

While boasting how close the site is to bus stops and local shops, the plans still show two car parking spaces per house with some bicycle stands thrown in. Another trendy label they hope will go down well with the planning officers. They are even promising to keep many existing trees to show their concern for the environment!

Oh – and by the way – in all their applications they have never approached us – the people who live around this strip of agricultural land.

Parking is at a premium in our road.

There are no additional car spaces for visitors which means extra pressure on limited parking around the area. In our street, many cars are forced to park on pavements to escape getting scraped by passing traffic which doesn’t exactly help mums with pushchairs or the disabled.

Pavement parking

Deadmill Lane and Ferndale Road are rat runs. An easy way to avoid the London Road and head up through Camden. The rush-hour periods see heavy use of Deadmill and often our road too. So many families live on one side of the city while their children’s schools are on the other.

The paint work entrance to Deadmill Lane from the old Gloucester Road. It’s narrow and you cannot see around the bend.

The applicants have done their own traffic count with a pressure strip across the lane for a while. They argue traffic was neither heavy or fast with most people sticking to the 20 mph speed limit. Though – like most road markings now in and around this city – the paint is well-worn l would argue the slow speed has more to do with the inherent dangers of something coming around the bend in the opposite direction or the fear of a pedestrian in the road.

Another traffic count was done a couple of years ago before Covid and lockdowns struck. Below is a much more realistic list of figures.

A better traffic count

The entrance to this site – if outline planning permission was granted – would be off the lane and – however much they ‘splayed the entrance’ it would be a hidden danger to traffic coming down the lane which has no idea there is a housing development halfway down their route!

They were also talking about a white line down one side of the lane to define where pedestrians could walk. I have to say l would not be brave enough to use that route. Many cars are the size of monster trucks these days.

You are forced to go slow because you cannot see what is coming. The 20 mph sign on the lane has worn away.

Our road has narrow pavements but even here – residents had to campaign for bollards after one mum was nearly mown down by a car mounting the pavement.

Bollards are our only defence and some lorries ignore the ‘not suitable’ sign.

Pedestrian access would be laid on by joining up to a footpath that serves the back gardens of one of three terraces in our road.

The rear lane.

Originally built as social housing, most of them are now lived in by homeowners – though the area is still maintained by the Curo Housing Group. I don’t think you can just join onto somebody else’s right of way?

Road safety is one of my major objections to this seemingly amended scheme – the last one – which was refused – was for 18 houses. The other is an attack on the Green Belt.

Homes are needed – yes – but while we currently are focused on human damage limitation to this planet, it’s not the Green Belt we should be building on. 

A changing High Street is offering the option for more people to move back into the city centre – and there are brownfield sites that should be used for homes and not student accommodation.

I heard that the proposal could be seen as filling a gap between developments – although on one side lies a medieval mill! I do not agree. It’s more like blocking an artery.

This agricultural land is a gateway to the beautiful Woolley Valley. It is a route used by the wildlife that roams our streets at night. Foxes, badgers and owls will be pushed further away by urban sprawl.

The Green Belt is meant to check that and safeguard the countryside from encroachment. It also encourages urban regeneration.

These fields have cold water springs running underneath them and this is an area prone to flooding with so many tarmac roads and houses already pushing surface water down to the tiny Lam Brook.

Just a few years ago.

This watercourse has recently had a solar-powered measuring device installed to warn of rising waters. Even before that bursts its banks the area around Deadmill would be underwater.

This is an inappropriate development in the wrong place and for the wrong reasons.

Did l hear the applicants can view objections and liaise with the planning department to amend the application? If so this is a blatantly wrong system that moves the goalposts on one side. Whatever is in the written application should stand as the intended development from the time it is delivered to the planning department.

Refusal of this application should bring an end to attempts to build on this agricultural land – teeming with wildlife. The developers should be told enough is enough and the case for a breach of the Green Belt at this crucial time amidst climate change and human environmental damage should be finally closed.

If you would like to join the local residents in opposing this breach of the Green Belt and loss of natural habitat and wildlife please click on

https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/webforms/planning/details.html?refval=21%2F04746%2FOUT

Comments have to be in by November 25th. Don’t be a NIMBY about this. If this patch of protected land falls to the bulldozer it could be Green Belt near you next!

1 Comment

  1. Developers are very good at wriggling out of building affordable homes. It has happened at Hope House and elsewhere.

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