Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A WHITCHURCH farming family are standing firm to save Bristol's green belt, despite offers of up to £8 million for their land.

Setting a superb example...

A WHITCHURCH farming family are standing firm to save Bristol's green belt, despite offers of up to £8 million for their land.

Paul and Jill Britten say they are standing up against a "tsunami of property development" to try to protect the countryside on Bristol's doorstep – although property developers are offering £50,000 per acre for Whitewood Farm, which is more than 3,000 per cent higher than offers made a little under five years ago.

As the Brittens survey the rolling fields of their farm on the edge of Whitchurch, the city of Bristol looms beyond the hedge to the north.

At Whitewood Farm, the concept of the "green belt" is immediately apparent, as the urban sprawl halts in a perfect green line.

But all that could change. For the past five years the family, who have farmed their 160 acres of land since 1957, have had a metaphorical JCB digging arm hanging over their heads.

Mr Britten, 65, said: "I look at the streets of modern housing down there, and it feels like a rising tide heading towards us. Since my father took on this farm in the 1950s, when I was just 12 years old, I've watched all these houses rise up and I've never minded a steady trickle. But what we're faced with now is more like a tsunami."

Bath and North East Somerset Council's Regional Spatial Strategy had plans for this verdant swathe of land – and it involved 9,000 homes swamping the Britten's organic beef farm and many of the nearby properties.

The Brittens have regularly had to turn away property developers flashing their chequebooks at the farm door...

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