Councillor's concern over delay to final housing number verdict

PUBLISHED: 13:00 03 July 2015

Campaign groups, such as Congresbury Residents' Action Group, have been set up while the final core strategy housing figure is debated.

Campaign groups, such as Congresbury Residents' Action Group, have been set up while the final core strategy housing figure is debated.

JCL PHOTOGRAPHY

A district councillor has announced a Government decision on the number of houses which must be built in North Somerset has been delayed.

Councillor Jill Iles told members of Yatton Parish Council planning committee the decision – which was expected to be made this month – has now been postponed until July.

North Somerset Council had outlined in its core strategy it wanted 14,000 homes to be built between 2006-2026. However, following a challenge from the University of Bristol, planning inspector Roland Punshon ruled that 14,000 homes was insufficient and raised the target to 20,895. He also declared the housing backlog must be cleared within five years.

But in March, MPs for Weston and North Somerset, John Penrose and Dr Liam Fox, referred the case to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government because they felt the higher figure was ‘unacceptable’ and would put North Somerset’s green belt at risk.

Cllr Iles said: “I hoped (and expected) the Secretary of State would make the statement at the end of June, but it now looks like it will be July. We are in a state of flux with not knowing the agreed numbers.

“I do not really understand why they have said they need another month and I am slightly concerned.”

A spokesman from Yatton housing pressure group No Moor Development (NMD) said: “The current hiatus is leaving our communities vulnerable.

“We need to see more evidence that North Somerset authorities are not following an acquiescent policy.

“The developers are calling the tune and have been lobbying the powers-that-be for years.”

When asked to comment by the Times, a spokesman for North Somerset Council said the authority was not aware of any delay in the decision.

He said: “We haven’t been given a date of when we may get the decision from the Secretary of State, but nor have we had any indication that it has been delayed. From our perspective we would like a decision as soon as possible to be able to move forward in getting the core strategy adopted.”

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