SOUTH Gloucestershire Council have declared they are taking legal action against government planning inspectors over a controversial decision to approve housing in Thornbury.

The 350-home Cleve Park development, which received approval from the Planning Inspectorate last month following a six-day inquiry after recommendations to approve the site were dismissed by councillors.

Plans for the 55-acre site put forward by Wellbeck Land and Landform Estates, adjacent to Morton Way and Grovesend Road, also include scope for a 70-bed care home, 14 self-build plots and community and commercial facilities.

The council have announced that, after carefully considering the inquiry verdict, they would be issuing legal proceedings to challenge the decision.

Further action has been taken, with the council writing to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire, requesting that he exercises his powers to recover the planning appeals relating to the 121-home Barratt Homes development in Charfield and the 370-home Bovis Homes site in Thornbury from the Planning Inspectors, and make the decisions himself.

Both actions are a major intervention for the council, who have said they consider the appeals, if granted, would undermine the West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) that is currently with the Secretary of State for approval.

SGC leader Cllr Toby Savage said: “Enough is enough. I am determined to see the council take a robust approach to challenging unsustainable development across the district.

“Where we have taken difficult decisions to proactively and positively plan for future housing and jobs growth, we should not have decisions from the Planning Inspectorate which undermines this work as it only stores up economic, social and environmental problems for the future.”

The council’s cabinet Member for planning, Cllr Colin Hunt, added: “In South Gloucestershire we are trying to be plan led with our decisions on planning applications.

“While we appreciate that we have a shortfall on our five year land supply, nonetheless we want decisions to reflect that we have a solid plan that was prepared in consultation with the public.

“It is not appropriate for Thornbury, Charfield and other locations to be under attack from speculative developers in this way, who are seeking to circumvent the plan led system and community engagement in a manner which undermines the recently submitted JSP.”

Thornbury councillor and the council’s Lib Dem deputy leader Maggie Tyrrell, welcomed the news, saying that it was ‘a long time coming’.

“It is really good news that the council is finally trying to get to grips with controlling the planning and development around Thornbury,” she said.

“We have always as a group supported the idea of development, but in a planned way, and at the moment it is not being properly planned because there is no strategy about how they are going to provide the necessary infrastructure and services for the new housing.”

The Gazette is awaiting comment from the developers and the Planning Inspectorate.