Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

Document Section 1. North Somerset Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Document North Somerset Issues Q3. Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these? [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 21425377//1
Respondent The Belmont Estate [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 10 Dec 2018
Comment

These representations have been prepared by the Belmont Estate in relation to the North Somerset Local Plan 2036 Issues and Options Consultation with input from Ridge and Partners.

The Belmont Estate consists of a significant landholding of approximately 242 acres. It is situated in Wraxall, approximately 1.3 miles north of Flax Bourton and 3.8 miles east of Nailsea. It is located adjacent to the Tyntesfield Estate and forms part of the Registered Park and Garden of Tyntesfield.
The Estate has a lengthy and interesting history. It comprises a Grade II* Historic Park and Garden, registered as such for its special historic interest, a Grade II listed country house of late 18th Century origin, a Grade II Listed Carriage House (previously Laundry Cottages) and adjoining Grade II listed Kitchen Walled Garden together with Grade II listed Clifton Lodge, Station Lodge and Belmont Lodge (this last owned separately from the Estate).
In addition there is an independently Grade II* listed tree lined avenue, once the principal entrance to Tyntesfield. The estate’s ½ mile southern boundary with the Clevedon Road forms part of what is reputed to be the longest holly hedge in the country (also noted within the overall listing).

As this representation highlights, the Estate is therefore an important heritage asset in the North Somerset area and should be recognised as such in the emerging Local Plan and its evidence base.

The Issues and Options Paper poses a series of questions and this representation aims to specifically answer the relevant questions highlighted within the paper. Essentially, this representation seeks to ensure that a robust and flexible Local Plan is prepared which takes into account the important Heritage Assets of the Estate and the need for these Assets to be protected and enhanced but also sustained for future generations in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Estate Background
The Estate’s landholding extends to approximately 242 acres. It is situated in Wraxall, approximately 1.3 miles north of Flax Bourton and 3.8 miles east of Nailsea. It is located in an elevated position on the hillside above the Bristol Road and can also be accessed from Belmont Hill. A site location plan accompanies this representation.

The Estate has a lengthy and interesting history. For many years it formed part of the adjacent Tyntesfield Estate, now owned by the National Trust.
In 1760 William Turner bought Belmont House as a cottage. Following his death in 1804, the Estate was left to his nephew George Penrose Seymour who also bought Tyntes Place; the site on which Tyntesfield was later to be built.

In 1870 George’s cousin William Gibbs bought Belmont, reuniting it with Tyntesfield. For several generations thereafter, the Belmont Estate passed through the hands of the Gibbs family until 2001 when Richard, 2nd Baron Wraxall, died and Tyntesfield was sold to the National Trust.
At this point, Belmont briefly became an independent estate before being broken up and then, remarkably, within the same decade, reassembled by the current owners, a family that has been part of Bristol life for the last 175+ years.

As previously highlighted, the Estate forms a Grade II* Historic Park and Garden, registered as such for its special historic. In addition, it also comprises a number of other important designated heritage assets including:

 Grade II listed Belmont House, of late 18th Century origin (List UID: 1129055)
 Grade II Listed Carriage House (previously Laundry Cottages) and adjoining Kitchen Walled Garden (List UID: 1061348)
 Grade II listed Clifton Lodge, with gates and gate piers to the south-east (List UID :1061339)
 Grade II listed Station Lodge, including gate piers and gate adjoining north west (List UID: 1061349)
 Grade II Listed monument to Joseph Farrell, in the grounds of and to the south east of Belmont House (List UID: 1320987)
 Grade II listed Belmont Lodge - this last owned separately from the Estate (List UID: 1061335)

The above designations are shown on the Historic England map enclosed. That map also demonstrates that the Estate is surrounded by numerous other designated heritage assets, including those of the neighbouring Tyntesfield Estate. The Estate is therefore an important heritage asset in the North Somerset area and this should be taken into account when considering proposals for new development and infrastructure in North Somerset.

The Tyntesfield Estate, owned by the National Trust, is situated directly to the north west of the Belmont Estate and houses a Grade I Listed Building, numerous other Grade II Listed buildings and monuments as well as also forming a Grade II Listed registered Historic Park and Garden. Formerly, the two Estates formed one.

Directly to the east lies the Ashton Hill Plantation which is a 148 acre forestry commission woodland and local nature reserve that also previously formed part of the Tyntesfield Estate. To the south is an area of around 130 acres of Grade 1 agricultural land owned by the North Somerset Agricultural Society. Until 2002 this also formed part of the Tyntesfield Estate and houses Grade II listed Victorian Bathing ponds.

In addition, there is an independently Grade II* listed tree lined avenue at the Estate, once the principal entrance to Tyntesfield. The Estate’s ½ mile southern boundary with the Clevedon Road forms part of what is reputed to be the longest holly hedge in the country (also noted within the overall listing).

The Estate is also situated within the Bristol and Bath Green Belt. The Joint Spatial Plan Green Belt Assessment (November 2015) highlights at p.54 that this part of the Green Belt (cell name 71) serves purposes 2, 3 and 5 of the Green Belt including:

 Helps prevent the merger of Nailsea, Long Ashton and Bristol
 This land safeguards the countryside from encroachment. There is also significant recreational and agricultural use.
 The Green Belt assists in preserving the setting of Tyntesfield House and the country estate.

It goes on to state that this area forms part of the steep sided ridge in the vicinity of Wraxall and Failand and includes the Tyntesfield estate (National Trust). The area is primarily open and undeveloped, with heavily wooded areas, agricultural land and open recreation uses.

It is important to note that the Belmont Estate is privately owned and is actively involved in laying the foundations of a self-sustaining modern estate that is home to an agricultural and forestry business with an ethos to restore heritage value. Following the reassembly of the Estate, starting with the land in 2012, the regeneration and maintenance of the ancient woodland has been achieved, allowing active farming to have begun on the Estate’s pasture land. As well as reassembling the fragmented land and buildings of the estate the owners have invested (and continue to invest) very heavily in restoring the listed buildings, gardens and grounds as well as committing ongoing significant sums to develop a training, education, hospitality and tourism enterprise. This representation therefore seeks to ensure that the Estate is able to maintain the viability and maintenance of the numerous heritage assets that form part of the Estate for future generations.

Question 3 – Nailsea and Backwell challenges and issues

The Estate has previously highlighted its concerns regarding new strategic development at Nailsea and Backwell in its representations to the JSP given the reliance upon the delivery of significant new highways infrastructure to deliver these developments which will evidently result in significant environmental harm, including harm to designated heritage assets. For this reason, it is considered that development in these locations is unsustainable and this must also be considered in tandem with the fact that the locations for development in these areas is far from significant employment opportunities and in an area that will further encourage travel by car rather than more sustainable travel modes. In so doing it will place further burden and create further noise and pollution on existing highways while also being heavily reliant on the construction of significant new highway infrastructure.

With regard to Key Issue 1, we also express our concern that progress with the Local Plan at this point is premature given that the JSP has not yet progressed to examination hearings and the Inspector has yet to provide comment on the Spatial Strategy proposed by the JSP. Our previous representations to the JSP and initial Local Plan consultation have highlighted concerns regarding the strategy to include strategic development locations at Nailsea and Backwell due to significant environmental constraints that will arise as a result of the infrastructure proposals that are needed to support development in these locations. As above, it is the Estates position that the proposals are not only unsustainable due to their location far from significant employment opportunities but will also further encourage travel by car, with all the attendant problems of noise and other pollution to the environment. Furthermore, it will result in the need for significant new infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of new development which will have a harmful effect on the natural and historic environment. These issues have also been raised by numerous consultees such as Historic England and it is clear that the Inspectors would like to understand further details at the examination regarding the Spatial Strategy and strategic development locations.

Key issue 3 acknowledges one of the important issues to be “The environmental implications of development on internationally protected habitats and floodplain areas.” The Estate is in agreement with this point to some extent. However, we suggest this needs to go further as it has not included the importance of ensuring that designated heritage assets (such as those at the Belmont Estate) are protected and enhanced in line with the NPPF. This is a significant point that needs to be referenced and fully considered in the Local Plan. We also note that in Historic England’s latest response to the JSP earlier this year it was highlighted that more clarity is required to demonstrate the evidence that has been gathered and applied to inform the impact of the proposed extension to Nailsea on the setting of numerous highly graded Heritage Assets and the wider landscape as a whole.

Key issue 4 relates to the proposed strategic road infrastructure to support development at Nailsea and Backwell. In this regard, the Estate would like to highlight that as part of the consultation to the JSP earlier this year, Historic England highlighted the importance of undertaking further work to clarify the route of the link road between the A370 and Nailsea as well as its form and scale to help appreciate the impact on the historic landscape and the setting of Heritage Assets likely to be affected. The potential for impacts as a result of a new M5 Junction to serve a new road from Nailsea on significant Heritage Assets also needs to be carefully considered. We fully support the concerns raised by Historic England in this regard and urge the Councils to undertake further work to analyse the potential for significant impacts on the nearby heritage assets, including those at the Belmont Estate and neighbouring Tyntesfield Estate. We are also concerned regarding any proposals that place further traffic burden onto the B3130 and particularly any proposed link Road from B3130 Clevedon to B3130 Bristol which could have a significant and material detrimental impact on the Registered Park and Gardens of Tyntesfield and Belmont and needs to be carefully assessed.

Key issue 8 refers to the need to encourage a range of local employment opportunities including start-ups and small businesses. Key Issue 9 relates to the need to improve opportunities for sport, leisure, community and cultural activities and events. These issues relate strongly to the Estate’s key priorities. The Estate’s focus is to ensure its heritage assets are maintained and enhanced for future generations to enjoy. To do this, the Estate has sought to reassemble and revive Belmont into a modern, working estate that can be shared with others and can generate its own income to ensure its viability. The Estate seeks to open its doors to the public through activities such as countryside and environment classes, butchery and cookery classes, mindfulness and yoga as well as possibly an occasional private function hire. The Estate employs a number of staff already and would like to expand upon this where possible through new business avenues at the Estate.

The Estate therefore fully supports keys issues 8 and 9. It is considered important that the Plan helps, rather than hinders small local businesses and rural employment opportunities and provides access to community and cultural events. However, the Estate suggests the Local Plan needs to take a more flexible approach to proposals to enhance Estates such as Belmont, which can provide good local employment opportunities and important tourist attractions that also help the Estate thrive and grow to enable the preservation and enhancement of its heritage assets for future generations. We would like to see this reflected in planning policy regarding rural tourism and business as highlighted later in this letter.

Summary
Concerns regarding new strategic development at Nailsea and Backwell in its representations to the JSP given the reliance upon the delivery of significant new highways infrastructure to deliver these developments which will evidently result in significant environmental harm, including harm to designated heritage assets.
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