Core Strategy - Consultation Draft

CS6: North Somerset's Green Belt

CS6: North Somerset's Green Belt

Within North Somerset the boundaries of the Bristol - Bath Green Belt will remain unchanged during the plan period.

Only in exceptional circumstances where there is an overriding need to accommodate what would otherwise be inappropriate development which cannot be met elsewhere and where Green Belt land offers the most sustainable option, will land be taken out of the Green Belt through an appropriate local review and identified through a Local Development Document.

Further amendments to the Green Belt at Bristol International Airport will only be considered once long-term development needs have been identified and exceptional circumstances demonstrated.

This policy contributes towards achieving Priority Objective 7.


The fundamental aim of the Green Belt is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open, the most important characteristic of the Green Belt being its openness. Green Belts perform five important functions in:

  • Preventing urban sprawl
  • Preventing towns from merging into one another
  • Safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
  • Preserving the setting and character of historic towns
  • Helping urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of underused and outworn urban land and buildings.

The Joint Replacement Structure Plan (2002) has set out the general extent of the Bristol - Bath Green Belt, with the detailed boundaries defined through the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan (2007).

The protection and maintenance of the Green Belt is very important to the affected communities, and ensures a clear distinction between urban Bristol and rural North Somerset. It makes an important contribution to their local character and distinctiveness, and is highly valued and strongly supported.

The Core Strategy approach

A key feature of Green Belts is their permanence. Green Belts are intended to be a long-term designation. Taking account of the recent changes to the Green Belt through the Replacement Local Plan (2007) and the emerging RSS which, with the specific exceptions set out below, does not identify a need for large scale further revisions to either the general extent or detailed boundaries of the Green Belt, therefore a more extensive review of the Green Belt through the Core Strategy is not supported.

However, the emerging RSS (Policy HMA1) does propose the following Green Belt amendments:

SW Bristol urban extension

North Somerset opposes the proposed development in the Green Belt (see Chapter 5) but will continue to assess options and choices through the Plan-making process. If the urban extension is eventually confirmed, then further consultation will be required on the land to be removed and the new Green Belt boundaries.

Bristol International Airport

The RSS proposes "the removal of the Green Belt at Bristol International Airport having regard to development needs of the airport". This issue was addressed by the Replacement Local Plan and an inset created in the Green Belt to accommodate the requirements of airport development to 2019. Further Green Belt amendment would be premature in advance of exceptional circumstances being demonstrated through evidence regarding future expansion and its land use implications.

Royal Portbury Dock

The RSS proposes the "removal of the Green Belt between Royal Portbury Dock and the M5 motorway having regard to the development needs of the Royal Portbury Dock". This issue was addressed through the Replacement Local Plan and land removed from the Green Belt and safeguarded for future port use. There is no further suitable, developable land remaining between the Port and the M5, and therefore no further Green Belt amendment is proposed.

How and where the policy will be delivered

Through applying the strong presumption against inappropriate development within the Green Belt.

Alternative options and contingency planning

The emerging RSS proposes changing the general extent of the Green Belt at SW Bristol to accommodate an urban extension. North Somerset opposes this proposal, no urban extension is proposed to be allocated within the Core Strategy Consultation Draft, and consequently no change to the Green Belt. However, as is explored in Chapter 5, the Consultation Draft is also an opportunity to comment on the options and choices related to the SW Bristol proposal, and a key aspect of this will be a debate on the possible future role and location of the Green Belt in this area.

If the proposed SW Bristol urban extension is eventually confirmed through the RSS process, then additional consultation will take place on the Green Belt implications and boundary changes.

The Draft 2006 RSS proposed extending the Green Belt to the south west of Nailsea to compensate for Green Belt losses on the edge of Bristol. Consultation was undertaken at the Core Strategy Issues and Options stage on possible future boundaries, but the deletion of this aspect from the RSS Proposed Changes means that there is currently no strategic context for this to take place. If the final version of the RSS again supports Green Belt extension, then further consultation will be required.

Monitoring and review

Performance will be monitored by the assessment of planning applications, and losses of land to the Green Belt.