Developers push for more homes in North Somerset

Developers push for more homes in North Somerset

VILLAGE leaders are concerned for the future of Backwell and other rural villages after developers’ calls for more houses to be built in North Somerset.

During the consultation of North Somerset’s core strategy, a number of developers objected to the reduction in the number of new homes proposed for the area between 2006 and 2026.

Under Labour’s Regional Spatial Strategy, 26,000 new homes were planned for south Bristol, but the council reduced that number to 13,400 homes to be built mainly in the Weston area, when the RSS was thrown out.

Rural parishes such as Backwell and Barrow Gurney were delighted when the figure was halved, but there are now fears developers could try to push for more development in some of the district’s key beauty spots.

District councillor for Backwell and Barrow Gurney, Tom Collinson, said: “Powerful developers allege that housing development is inadequate. Baker Associates and GV Grimley look to continue aspirations for large scale green belt development in Ashton Vale.

“Other developers promote more expansion of villages and the Pegasus Planning Group specifically targets Backwell for extended development.

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“Powerful Persimmon Group has challenged housing number reductions and it owns Farleigh Fields in Backwell.

“I’m particularly concerned about the developers’ proposals that North Somerset villages should provide dormitory accommodation for other areas, particularly Bristol, is totally unacceptable to us.

“People move to villages like Backwell and Wraxall to live in rural communities and it’s totally unfair that they should be unbalanced by large scale development of dormitory housing for employment elsewhere.

“Councils need to be aware of all these developers’ aspirations and be ready for collective defence of the core strategy and their particular rural interests.”

Mr Collinson is suggesting the parish councils affected, which include Backwell, Nailsea, Barrow Gurney, Flax Bourton, Wraxall, Failand and Long Ashton, join forces to keep an eye on developers’ plans and provide evidence of the impact large developments could have on infrastructure and highways.

He said: “We want to be sure we monitor what the developers are saying so that in the event of any unacceptable large planning applications coming in, our parish authorities are ready to counteract these proposals.”

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “The main reasons for the housing reduction are that the new requirement is based on a job led policy - related to how many new jobs may come forward and how many new houses might be needed to support employment.

“We don’t want to continue to be an area where commuters live.”

The core strategy document will be considered by North Somerset Council on January 18. If approved it will be subject to public consultation, before a submission document is approved and submitted to the Secretary of State, ready for adoption in March 2012.