Hundreds of new homes could be built on prime agricultural land at Farleigh Fields on the outskirts of Backwell, near Bristol. However, for the last few decades, local residents have fought hard to protect the fields from falling into the hands of developers.

Dr Julia Reid MEP, UKIP’s Environment Spokesman, has expressed her full support for the local residents in opposing the plans to build new homes on Farleigh Fields.

A planning inspector is to decide whether 220 new homes can be on the land at Farleigh fields. However, the local residents believe the planning inspectors should honour the neighbourhood plans.

Last year, North Somerset Council refused to grant planning permission to the developer Charles Church Severn Valley on the grounds that the plans did not comply with their core strategy document. North Somerset Council explained that the development would have a ‘detrimental impact on the character of the area’ and put a strain on local resources.

The developer is now challenging the council’s decision. The hearing is expected to last 8 days and will be held at the Town Hall in Weston, beginning tomorrow (March 14th).

Dr Julia Reid MEP, who represents the South West counties and Gibraltar and is also a Calne Town Councillor, said: “Although I can appreciate that North Somerset Council is under pressure to meet housing targets, we shouldn’t burden small villages and sacrifice up our precious countryside to do this. Especially when there is still plenty of brownfield land in North Somerset that has been left completely untouched.

“The local residents have fought to protect their fields for over 30 years and have a properly formed neighbourhood plan; therefore I believe the planning inspectors should honour this.

Allowing development in areas where communities have worked hard to get a Neighbourhood Plan in place sets a worrisome precedent, and once the land is lost to development, it will be lost forever. This is why we in UKIP strongly believe that our countryside must be preserved so that it can be enjoyed by future generations.”

In the local neighbourhood plan, the authors have said that Farleigh Fields are valued by the local community for reasons including their character, recreational value and the richness of wildlife.

Local residents describe Farleigh Fields as “one of North Somerset’s finest green areas full of wildlife fauna and flora. Used by the community of Backwell for hundreds of years.”

Dan, a young Backwell resident, who is strongly opposed to the new development, told us that for a relatively small village, “it already has quite a large traffic flow through the centre.”

Dan added that he is “annoyed that large companies can come to a community and try to make a load of money without caring about the wellbeing of the village.”

“I have lived there all my life and it’s saddening to see it change for the worse.”

Another resident who wanted to remain anonymous said: “It’s a real shame that the developers are choosing to completely ignore the views of local residents”.