Fight against JSP could end up costing council thousands

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 May 2018

BRA and parish council members celebrating Farleigh Fields housing decision.

BRA and parish council members celebrating Farleigh Fields housing decision.

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The high cost of fighting a housing masterplan is a cause for concern for one North Somerset council, but it is promising to ‘give its best shot’.

The Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), drawn up by the West of England authorities including North Somerset Council, lays out where housing should go in the area up to 2036.

It outlines plans for 25,000 homes in North Somerset, including 2,575 homes in Nailsea, and 700 for Backwell.

MORE: Need for North Somerset houses must be balanced with infrastructure – MP responds to JSP.

Backwell Parish Council and Nailsea Town Council are expected to work together to fight some aspects of the JSP – but the huge cost implications are causing concern.

Backwell Parish Council chairman Bob Taylor said: “I am very concerned we don’t know what we are letting ourselves in for about the cost to fight the JSP and the 700 houses.

“We will fight the JSP. But we must bear in mind it could well be the [planning] inspector will agree with North Somerset Council and say the plan on the table is acceptable.

An aerial illustration of where the Grove Farm homes would go in Backwell.An aerial illustration of where the Grove Farm homes would go in Backwell.

“It could well be it is money down the drain, but we always give it our best shot. There is a history at the council of always going to the end.

“You [councillors] need to be aware [of the potential cost] so it is not a shock at the end of the day.”

Developer Taylor Wimpey has previously said it would like to build 700 homes on Grove Farm.

The parish council is no stranger to fighting housing applications and winning.

MORE: Government housing minister dismisses appeal for 220 homes on Backwell fields.

It spent up to £60,000 to fight a developer’s plan to build on Farleigh Fields – a decision eventually vindicated when a Government minister rejected the developer’s appeal earlier this year.

The scale of the JSP makes it more challenging, along with the fact North Somerset Council supports the masterplan, whereas it did not support the Farleigh Fields development.

The parish council will be challenging the soundness of the JSP with the help of experts in planning, highways and ecology.

It is looking at how it can save money on the experts – but one consultant is expected to charge £17,500 for their work.

The JSP proposes 105,000 houses for the whole of the West of England.

North Somerset Council’s leader Nigel Ashton described the JSP as the ‘least worst option’ and ‘damage limitation’ when it approved the draft in November last year.


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