Dinghurst Road Development

New Planning application 21/P/2123/OUT

The proposal is for a 25-house estate in Churchill just below

'The Crown' and adjacent to Mendip Hills AONB

Disgraceful decision by North Somerset P & R Committee

It is with a whopping degree of shock and no less sadness that The Planning and Regulatory Committee of North Somerset Council and set the pathway to destroy Churchill even more by only 1 vote swung by a Lib Dem councillor, allowing Outline planning permission for 25 houses to be built below the Crown pub with access onto Dinghurst Road (A368).  


There were claims that the AONB had withdrawn its objection (the objection was supported by Natural England) which we can confirm is NOT the case.  The developers claimed that issue of pedestrian safety was overcome by a pathway had been added from the site to the 'Hands' at the traffic lights where there were pedestrian-controlled crossing and therefore would be OK.  The access as shown was a private driveway.  The owners were not given the right to reply but this has Richard Kent has been contacted about this.    

  • Only one person could speak for the application and one against and for only 3 minutes. 

  • Simon Hegarty spoke brilliantly and succinctly to the councillors on behalf of residents and Churchill Parish Council.   He was supported by David Johnson, Diana Warren and Jan Murray - huge thanks go to you all - it was nothing short of a truly grim experience to witness such a travesty of democracy.

  • The officers were given a chance to refute everything that was put forward as an objection to the application.  

  • Richard Kent stated that the application is likely to go to appeal if the councillors did not approve it and would most certainly be overruled by the Inspectorate as the last three had been overruled.  

  • What was NOT pointed out was that the last three appeals were in sustainable locations all of which had railway stations - 2 in Yatton and 1 in Backwell.  Thus the councillors and officers felt able to prejudge the Planning Inspectorate.  

  • The fact that over 700 objections had been made wasn’t even mentioned.  What was mentioned was the "excellent and comprehensive response", from Churchill Parish council which was appreciated - but totally ignored.  Do the councillors really feel that they know better than local people and the Ward Councillor who had called it in?

  • The fact that the area is high sensitivity in North Somerset Council's own Landscape Sensitivity Assessment and the assessment commissioned by Churchill Parish Council was of no concern at all.  

  • The fact that there are numerous reasons why that application could be turned down in terms of planning guidance, both NSC and National Planning Policy Framework, as pointed out in the Churchill and Wrington Parish Council objections to both the 48 and the 25 houses was neither here nor there.  The officers led by Richard Kent was given the final word every time. 

  • All wildlife and ecological concerns were totally ignored.  


Cllr Ann Harley was extremely supportive of the objection so much so that at one point it did look as if Patrick Keating, (Ward Councillor) who had called it in to the P & R committee would be successful with the support of fellow Lib Dem (Cllr Payne).  Cllr Shopland, (Independent) spoke passionately about preserving our villages.  Then the 'big chief’ vice chair of the P & R committee, Lib Dem Cllr Crockford-Hawley (a town representative) let PK down miserably by following like a lamb every word that came from Richard Kent.  Cllr C-H spoke eloquently in support of the concept that it would go to appeal and the council would again lose that swayed the one extra person - 6 votes to 5.    

Our ward councillor, Parish Council (7 pages of planning reasons why it was a totally inappropriate site) and 700+ objections from members of the public counted for nothing - so what a transparent and democratic council we have!!  If Parish Councils are continually ignored, what is the point of having them a point that was taken by those attending the Planning Webinar the following morning.  We will continue banging this drum.  Furthermore, it was also pointed out that village life is a culture.  If we were ethnic minority culture, village life would be respected.  Why are we deemed to be worthy of slaughter at the hands of greedy, unscrupulous developers that represent such appalling planning?

This is nothing short of a disgrace. 



CALRAG's former summary:

  • North Somerset Council robustly turned down the previous application on this site for 48 houses.  This is the first reason in their letter dated 03 December 2020.  CALRAG believes this objection still stands.

    • ​"The proposed development, by reason of its location in close proximity to the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), would impact on views towards the AONB from Windmill Hill, have an urbanising effect on Skinners Lane which would be visible in views out of the AONB from The Batch into Skinners Lane and have an urbanising effect on Dinghurst Lane. Light pollution created by the proposal would impact on the dark skies of the AONB. This would cause unacceptable harm to the setting of the AONB. The proposed development is therefore contrary to Policies CS5 and CS9 of the Core Strategy, the Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan 2019-2024, the North Somerset Landscape Character Assessment SPD, and paragraphs 170 and 172 of the National Planning Policy Framework."  View full Letter

  • Highways and access

    • The management of site-access, from A368 Dinghurst Road, remains entirely unacceptable particularly due to the increased traffic flow as a consequence of the Banwell Bypass

      • There remains no right turning third lane to enable eastbound traffic safely to enter the site.

      • Pedestrian access remains totally unsuitable.

      • The various North Somerset Highways proposals have all been completely ignored.

  • Storm Drainage:  

    • The proposals remain totally inadequate.

      • The subsoil conditions and depths on this site are remarkably variable – very different half-drain times observed at different locations on site.

  • Ecology and natural environment 

    • This proposal poses profound ecological problems.

      • Serious loss of local biodiversity for bats and many other species.

  • Landscape:  
    • Profound adverse effect on the local landscape at this important gateway to the immediately adjacent Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

    • This proposal for residential development is incompatible with the provisions for AONBs within the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. (CROW 2000)

    • The more assertions offered by the applicants, concerning the inconspicuousness of the site within the landscape, simply fail to be supported by fact.

Click here to make your comments directly to NSC.  
Copy and paste your response and send to ward councillor Patrick Keating,  
and John Penrose MP
Full CALRAG response coming shortly

See other comments

Summary September 2021
Churchill is classified as a Service Village. It has already taken more than its fair share of new housing development.  330 houses either built or in the pipeline - 38.8% increase in the size of our village.  
This development will further increase the size of our village and put considerable strain on existing infrastructure.
Owner: Peter Everett​.  Promoter: Coln Residential 
CALRAG believes that development must planned, sustainable and in line with Government advisor, Prof. Paul Cheshire sited, "within 10 minutes walk from a train station in Green Belt" for efficient access to employment and leisure.
  • Many local people will know this particular field because iit used to belong to Gilly Rowlands.  She loved her horses which happily grazed there.  Since she passed on, it has been well maintained and grazed as part of this rural village.  Gilly would be horrified.   It is understood locally that there was a covenant on the land for agricultural use only.

  • The site lies outside of the Churchill settlement boundary and adjacent to the Mendip Hills AONB. 

  • The site is not on North Somerset's Site Allocations Plan and is not compliant with policy CS32 of the Core Strategy.

  • It will have an unacceptable and  harmful impact on the rural character and landscape setting of the surrounding area and views into and out of the Mendip Hills AONB.

  • NSC Landscape Character Sensitivity Assessment 2018 p107 shows that this area is rated as ‘High Sensitivity’. This highest classification of sensitivity cannot be ignored.

  • The Landscape and Character impact has the potential to urbanise this rural area.

  • The presence of Greater Horseshoe Bats on each of 3 site surveys indicates this development is unlawful under International Law and, were this development to be permitted, then NSC would be in breach of Natura 2000 regulations regarding an endangered species. The precautionary principle must apply here and so this overrides all possible local or national assessments.

  • The proposed development will have a severely  detrimental impact on the rural ambience, and harm to views into and out of the AONB.  Therefore it contravenes the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW 2000) 

  • Access will be onto the A368 near Churchill traffic lights which, with the Banwell bypass, will have severe traffic implications for the highways network and the junction capacity.

  • The only pavement is on the opposite side of the busy A368.  It is extremely narrow.  Already children have to hop onto the A368 to pass other pedestrians and one was recently hit by a wing-mirror.  

  • There is very little employment here to justify yet another housing development.

  • Access to viable public transport to Bristol for commuters.  Yatton rail station is 4.8 miles away and necessitates crossing the A370 at the offset double junction at Congresbury traffic lights.

  • Existing and housing estates under construction have ripped out our carbon-absorbing hedgerows which provided habitats for our wildlife.  In doing so they are ripping out the character of our villages.

  • Climate Change - North Somerset Council leader, Don Davies pledged to put Climate Change Emergency at the heart of every council decision.

  • Churchill/Mendip Spring remote Strategic Development Location along with other similar remote locations was one of the reasons why the Independent Inspectors at public examination of the West of England Joint Spatial Plan found it to be unsound. They had not been compared with reasonable alternatives.  There are alternative sites closer to the employment in Bristol.

  • Village life is a cultural choice.  It is very different to town life.  This application represents further discrimination of those whose culture choice is village life.

  • This application must be called in to Full Council if officers are minded to approve.


Annotated Andy Raines copy.jpg
September 2020 field photo.jpg

Mendip Hills AONB 

25 more houses here
This rural scene forms an important part of the character of our rural villages. 
It will be lost for ever

This is Greed not Need