Government orders North Somerset Council to find land for 2,500 more homes
PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 July 2017
North Somerset Council has been told by the Government it must find land capable of housing 2,500 homes to ensure it reaches its target of nearly 21,000 by 2026.
The council’s site allocations plan, which identifies housing sites to meet Government targets, was reviewed by an inspector in May, who found more sites are required to ensure the council has a five-year housing supply.
The inspector, Wendy Burden, found the council has earmarked enough land to reach its target of 20,985 from 2006-2026 – of which 8,847 were built by the end of March – but ‘additional sites are required to make up for those which are unlikely to be delivered’.
Therefore, the council has been told it must find land which offers ‘flexibility and certainty’ 2,500 homes could be built in the next nine years.
But ‘there are no easy sites left’, according to the council’s executive member for strategic planning Elfan Ap Rees, who believes North Somerset has been hampered by ‘slow’ developers.
He said: “We’ve already taken significant steps to increase the supply of housing to meet the core strategy requirement, granting permissions in both towns and villages and allocating new sites to boost the supply, but we are constrained by the housing developers whose delivery has been slow.
“Now there are no easy sites left, yet the inspector is requiring further growth in case the already identified sites do not materialise.
“That approach gives developers an easy ride and does not protect us against unwanted expansion. In my view it would be far better to ensure developers build the allocated houses where we want them.”
Congresbury Residents’ Action Group hopes North Somerset’s villages will not be earmarked for more housing developments.
Chairman Mary Short said: “If there is a need for more housing, it is social housing provided by housing associations or local authorities, and should be in areas closer to where people can reach amenities.
“By sitting on land, firms maintain high prices. So Cllr Ap Rees is right to call for them to be forced to use the banked land before more approvals are given.
“The council is reviewing its greenbelt policy, and we urge it to think seriously before desecrating the countryside around our rural villages any more than it has already.”
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