Vilner Lane wood is set to be saved following a dramatic U-turn by South Gloucestershire Council.

Campaigners have spent months attempting to save the wood, following news a care home was set to be built on the site.

The decision to sell land at Vilner Lane was proposed by a Lim Dem councillor and unanimously agreed by other parties in May 2014. 

In October 2019 the council, now controlled by the Conservatives, looked to amend the existing approval to sell direct to a care home developer but came up against strong opposition.

At the time Cllr Ben Burton, cabinet member for corporate resources, said: “Indications are there is demand for a care home within the Thornbury area.

“If we go against the previous decision, it would result in a significant gap in the financing of key projects.”

A proportion of the assumed capital receipt for the Vilner Lane sale was incorporated as part of the council’s budget

But, following concerns raised by residents, and a number of submissions from the public at a cabinet meeting last week, the decision has been reversed.

Ahead of a full council meeting tomorrow Conservative councillors have announced plans to amend the budget to ensure the land sale would not proceed.

Cllr Burton, who met with local residents at the woodland site on Monday, said: “I am thankful to the many Thornbury residents, numerous community organisations and the local MP Luke Hall for taking the time to write to me with their views on this important issue.

"It certainly played an important role in this amendment which protects this site and our wider budget plans.

“It is important that we invest wisely in our communities, on the services and infrastructure we provide.

"But if we are not listening to our residents and are following through on poorly made decisions then we are not doing our jobs correctly.”

In a letter sent to residents today (Tuesday) he added: "Whilst development of the site could secure a new care home at an early date to replace the existing dated home at Alexandra Way, it was considered that such provision could similarly be addressed, albeit at a later date, by the Cleve Park proposals which incorporate provision for a care home as part of the development."

Cllr Toby Savage, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council and Cabinet Member for Climate Change, said: “Liberal Democrats took the decision to sell Vilner Lane and Conservatives are saving it.

"South Gloucestershire has made a firm commitment to its residents that we will become carbon neutral by 2030 and every tree we plant, every solar panel we install and every person we get out of their cars and walking, on bikes or on public transport is a step towards that."

“The responsibility, however, to deliver on that climate emergency commitment is very much a partnership with the public."

"We cannot do this alone and I am pleased that local residents have been able to have an such impact on a policy that has long term effects on all of our communities.”

Speaking back in October Cllr Maggie Tyrrell (Lib Dem, Thornbury) said: “We have a newly built care home and two more sites already earmarked for others in Thornbury, so it isn’t necessary to sacrifice this valuable green space."

An online petition set up to save the wood was signed by more than 1,500 people.