Yew Tree Farm: Call to preserve Bristol's green spaces as new homes threat looms

An opposition councillor is calling on Bristol’s mayor to save the city’s green spaces from being obliterated by new housing.

Conservative representative Richard Eddy wants Labour’s Marvin Rees to give a “cast iron” commitment that Bristol’s green belt, parks and farmland will be preserved.

The proposal, which city councillors will vote on next week, comes as the city’s last working farm, Yew Tree Farm, continues to come under threat from a developer’s plans to build 200 new homes there.

It also follows a reversal by the city’s ruling Labour administration over plans to build housing on Brislington Meadows and a commitment by Mr Rees that he will ‘look again’ at whether to redevelop the Western Slopes, an important wildlife corridor in south Bristol.

Cllr Eddy said Bristol City Council ought to be building housing on so-called ‘brownfield’ sites – which have been developed before – before using greenbelt land or other green spaces.

“No-one denies that a city such as Bristol needs appropriate new residential development for its population to be housed,” the Bishopsworth representative said.

“Unfortunately, I am far from convinced that the current Labour mayoral administration has achieved sufficient progress in regenerating under-used ‘brownfield’ sites. The council ought to be prioritising ‘brownfield’ re-use before considering destroying our precious ‘green belt’ and ‘green-lung’ open spaces.

“Unless the mayor signals a radical change here, unique environmental assets such as Yew Tree Farm – Bristol’s last working farm – and the beautiful Western Slopes could disappear forever under the bulldozer.”

The mayor’s office did not respond to a request from the Local Democracy Reporting Service for comment.

Yew Tree Farm is a small family enterprise in south Bristol that produces a range of organic pork, beef, eggs, fruit and vegetables, and seasonal jams and chutneys.

It added honey to its produce list last week, winning the backing of the West of England metro mayor, Labour’s Dan Norris, who has put promoting and enhancing the environment for bees in the region as a top priority.

But farmer Catherine Withers, whose family owns 28 acres outright at Bristol’s last self-sufficient farm and rents a further 15 acres adjoining it, has been warning the farm’s future is under threat because the city council has plans to allow homes to be built there.

The council’s emerging Local Plan is set to strip Green Belt status from the 15 acres Catherine rents close to Bridgwater Road, and already developers Redrow have plans for 200 new homes to be built there.