Why little boxes have sparked fears of 400 new homes on Frampton Cotterell fields

CAMPAIGNERS who fought off plans to build 1,800 homes in Coalpit Heath have revived their group, over concerns that plans for hundreds more homes are in the pipeline.

And it is the appearance of small boxes in hedgerows in Frampton Cotterell that has set alarm bells ringing.

The boxes are used to carry out surveys to see if dormice are living in an area – and those surveys are carried out ahead of formal planning applications being drawn up, because dormice are an endangered an protected species. If any are found it can affect development projects.

Members of VALID (Villages Against Locally Intended Development), a group that opposes large scale development in the area, says the boxes are evidence a plan could soon be submitted.

They have been spotted on a site on land between Poplars Farm Shop and Black Rocks in Frampton.

Bristol architects Pad Design submitted a 40-page proposal for a development of 400 new homes called The Poplars on the site last year, in response to a ‘call for sites’ by South Gloucestershire Council, asking people to suggest places where housing development could take place.

Details on the submission have been redacted by South Gloucestershire Council – but they indicate the landowner may be willing to sell and the site could be developed in five years.

The document set out “a vision” for 24 acres of housing, with parkland and traditional stone walls.

The Voice has contacted the architects and farm shop for a comment.

VALID, which was first set up in 2016 and successfully campaigned to stop 1,800 homes being earmarked for fields east of Roundways in Coalpit Heath, has now revived with a meeting at Crossbow House in March, attended by representatives of community groups, councillors and other residents.

Recent planning appeal decisions which have questioned town and village “settlement boundaries” and the district’s five-year supply of housing land have added to the group’s concerns.

Frampton Cotterell Parish Councillor Dave Hockey, who has been campaigning on protecting the Green Belt for decades, said: “Here we go again!

“We want to be ready for any new threats to our Green Belt and green spaces. We know developers have put forward lots of the land around our villages as potential sites for development.”

Dave and wife Pat led a successful ‘Keep the Frome Valley Green’ campaign in the early 1990s which resulted in fields between Winterbourne and Frampton Cotterell being returned to the Green Belt.

David Hanks of Frampton Nature Group said: “Representatives from the Frampton Cotterell Nature group expressed their concerns about the potential impact of development on local nature.”  

He said the area where the dormouse boxes have been put up is a “key site for local wildlife”. 

VALID says the area is “ecologically rich” and home to species including kingfishers and otters, and developers have to show a planning application will produce a “biodiversity net gain”.

The group has produced a leaflet and poster to raise awareness of the issues, which will be distributed around Frome Valley villages, which they have paid to have printed in this edition of the Voice.

They are calling on people to display the poster in their windows.

There are also plans to set up a formal VALID committee to deal with any potential speculative planning applications and are also appealing for people to help with leaflet design and delivery, social media and managing email accounts.

The group is holding a public meeting on Wednesday May 10 at 7.30pm, in the skittle alley at the Miners Club on Badminton Road.

Anyone who wants to get involved can contact the group at validcampaign@gmail.comor via its Facebook page.

South Gloucestershire’s guidance on “its “call for sites” says: “The inclusion of a site on the call for sites map does not mean the site will be allocated or provide any indication of the outcome of any assessment process through the Local Plan or any subsequent planning application.

“The sites will be assessed to determine which sites have potential to be allocated through the Local Plan.”