Bristol's last farm has 'a future again' after mayoral reprieve from development

  • Watch Caron Bell's report

Bristol’s last working farm has been granted a potential reprieve by Mayor Marvin Rees to save the 15 acre site from turning into 200 homes.

Owner Catherine Withers said she was left 'speechless' after hearing the Mayor’s decision.

"It was just wonderful news, wonderful that Bristol has recognised that secure and sustainable food production is something they really value, and being the last farm it feels amazing," she said.

"It’s wonderful, I’ve got a future again."

The organic farm fields in Bedminster Down are home to a range of wildlife, such as horseshoe bats and skylarks.

Catherine said a housing development would leave the farm "small and unviable". Credit: ITV

Mr Rees has stressed the importance of protecting ecological sites like Yew Tree Farm.

He said: "Although we face a housing crisis, we also face an ecological crisis, the council should tread a balanced path between conflicting priorities.

"I will be proposing removing that parcel of land along with some other areas which we now have more information around wildlife on."

The Withers family has worked the farm for more than 100 years, but its future was threatened in 2018 when plans were unveiled for the site to be used to solve Bristol’s housing crisis.

Catherine said if the housing development went ahead, it would leave the farm "so small and unviable" to use.

The Mayor’s announcement comes three days after Bristol City Council launched its Ecological Emergency Action Plan, and a day before councillors vote on a proposal to protect the city’s green belt.

Officially a part of Bristol’s green belt, Yew Tree Farm falls inside the newly built South Bristol link road which has sliced the green belt in two and left the land inside it vulnerable to development.

The decision is not yet set in stone, but is a big step forward for the Bristol farm’s survival, which produces a range of organic pork, beef, eggs, fruit and vegetables, seasonal jams and chutneys, and honey.