Town earmarked to take thousands of new homes – but doubts are raised over how doctors and schools will cope
PUBLISHED: 16:52 24 October 2017
A North Somerset town is being lined up to take thousands of new homes over the next 20 years – but town and parish leaders fear vitally-needed GP surgeries and schools would not be built quickly enough to match the growing population.
North Somerset Council has produced the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) alongside other West of England authorities in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset.
Across the West of England area, 12 towns and villages have been pinpointed as ‘strategic development locations’ which will take ‘large scale developments’ – which in North Somerset involves Nailsea, Backwell, Banwell and Churchill.
Nailsea Town Council clerk Ian Morrell believes the plan will make a radical difference to the town.
He said: “This is an extremely important document for the future of the area and we know there’s going to be a big impact on Nailsea.”
Homes could be built to the south-west of Nailsea, initially for 2,575 homes, with another 725 possible after 2036.
Cllr James Tonkin said: “My immediate reaction is where is it all going to go, and are we going to see infrastructure prior to this?
“This is all about the fact they [planners] will not countenance adjusting the greenbelt in any way shape or form.”
Nailsea Town Council has been campaigning for the greenbelt to be reviewed to protect towns and villages continually being added to.
The town is already lined up to take some large housing developments, and plans are already in the pipeline for 183 homes in Engine Lane and up to 450 possible in Youngwood Lane.
The JSP does reference additional infrastructure being built in Nailsea, and says a secondary school and four primary schools could be in the pipeline, as well as an improved railway station and better connections to the M5.
Planners believe a new ‘local centre’ would form the heart of the new housing area with a range of shops and employment spaces available.
The document says this would ‘complement’ Nailsea’s town centre.
Neighbouring Backwell could be given an ‘extension’ involving 700 homes. The plans acknowledge road improvements are needed, including at Station Road, where campaigners are already concerned about speeding traffic and the dangers it poses to children on their way to school. A primary school is also planned.
Backwell Parish Council chairman Bob Taylor said: “We don’t mind gradual growth but we need to see infrastructure – schools, doctors, dentists – first.”
The plan promises a ‘strategic gap’ will be in place to ensure Nailsea and Backwell do not effectively become one joined-up town.