A developer in the village of Congresbury has warned residents that it will start to remove a historic meeting place within a few days.

Residents of Wrington Lane have been told that construction company Vistry will begin grinding down a granite rock outcrop, known as the “Mansbury Mound” because it occupies the centre of a site where it wants to build 50 houses.

Used as a play area by generations of children who called it the pirate ship, the mound may have been used in mediaeval times by the community as a meeting place and for open air court cases.

Despite strong opposition, permission was granted for 50 houses on the site by the former North Somerset Council back in 2016. But there was a caveat attached to the decision. It stated that no building could start until a safe footway had been provided for pedestrians along Wrington Lane.

And that has stopped the development in its tracks for more than five years. The reason? Land to construct a footway, belongs to the residents, and without that, there is not sufficient room for a footway and a suitable carriageway width.

CRAG chair Mary Short is in no doubt where the blame belongs: “The former North Somerset Council should never have allowed a development of this size in a narrow lane. Residents have quite rightly opposed the development and have suffered years of planning blight as a result.”

Local residents of the Lane have taken legal advice and believe that Vistry do not have authority to start work on the site while the footpath question is unresolved.

In the meantime, said Mary, all Congresbury residents should call on North Somerset Council to stop the destruction of an historic feature.

* Historical note: Known as a local “hundred” the term was the division of a shire for military and judicial purposes under common law. Until the introduction of districts by the Local Government Act 1894, hundreds were the only widely used assessment unit between parish and county. A Hundred of Congresbury existed by 1084 and consisted of the manors of Congresbury, Wick St Lawrence and Iwood.