Building 25,000 homes in North Somerset the ‘least worst option’

PUBLISHED: 16:01 21 November 2017

Cllr Nigel Ashton (right) said the housing target was the 'least worst option' available to North Somerset.

Cllr Nigel Ashton (right) said the housing target was the 'least worst option' available to North Somerset.

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Plans to build more than
2,500 homes in Nailsea over the next 20 years are focussed on the wrong part of town, according to one of North Somerset Council’s executive members.

The committee voted in support of progressing the joint spatial plan (JSP) which looks at house-building numbers up to 2036 – despite council leader Nigel Ashton having ‘huge misgivings’ over the figures.

The JSP – which the public can comment on – includes 2,575 homes for Nailsea and 700 in Backwell.

However, the focus on building to the south west of Nailsea was criticised.

Cllr Jan Barber said it would affect ‘one of the nicest areas of Nailsea’.

She said anyone thinking the train station would
solve travel problems was ‘wrong’.

Fellow Conservative councillor Karen Barclay was equally unimpressed with the JSP.

The Backwell councillor said: “We are putting forward an unworkable and unpopular plan. It would have a profoundly damaging impact.”

MORE: Developer advances plans for new homes in Backwell.

The JSP is a plan being put together by all four West of England councils – Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Across the region more than 100,000 homes are proposed.

Cllr Ashton said it has taken three years’ work and the 25,000-home figure was the ‘least worst option’ for North Somerset.

He said: “What we have been doing in recent years has been damage limitation.

“I have huge misgivings about the numbers and the infrastructure.

“The difficulty is we don’t build houses.

Developers can take 20 years to complete projects and they don’t put infrastructure in until the end. It is a complete mess.”

He said positive noises
had been made by the Government about providing cash for much-needed infrastructure and said that was imperative so council can meet the housing targets required of it.

Council papers indicate a new M5 link road to Nailsea would be needed.

However, Cllr Tom Leimdorfer questioned whether the Government would be inclined to invest in North Somerset infrastructure when its two political seats are considered safe.

Failure to adopt the JSP would hand developers an advantage, said deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees.

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