Housing threat over 'expired' plans downplayed by council

PUBLISHED: 08:47 22 December 2017

Dr Liam Fox listened to Wrington villagers' concerns when the application was first mooted.

Dr Liam Fox listened to Wrington villagers' concerns when the application was first mooted.

Archant

North Somerset Council does not believe its 'out-of-date' plans over the size of villages and towns will give developers an advantage when it comes to house-building.

Redcliffe Homes was last month given planning permission following appeal to build 59 homes just outside Wrington at Coxs Green.

It was permitted, in part, because the hearing’s inspector Paul Singleton felt village boundaries drawn up by the council had not been reviewed recently enough.

Mr Singleton ruled these are now ‘expired’, prompting concern from the Wrington Vale Alliance housing group that large swathes of the district’s countryside would soon be under threat.

However, a council spokesman said the authority does not foresee that happening.

They said because the council cannot demonstrate enough houses will be built over five years, its previous village boundaries should not be considered as ‘up-to-date’, according to national planning guidelines.

They added: “This means existing policies in local plans such as settlement boundaries are given less weight by inspectors when balancing up the planning merits of a proposal.

“We are working hard through the site allocations plan process (for housing up to 2026) to fix the five-year supply issue.

“Over the summer, the inspector overseeing the examination asked the council to test the allocation of additional housing sites to increase flexibility and choice, and the council identified further sites comprising 821 dwellings.

“The site allocations plan examination is currently reaching its conclusion.

“Once adopted the housing land supply position will be confirmed and full weight will again be given to the housing policies in local plans.

“Just because policies are deemed to be out-of-date does not mean that they carry no weight and the council has successfully defended proposals at appeal on sites outside village settlement boundaries – at Banwell and Bleadon Hill for example.”

Redcliffe Homes hopes to begin building at Coxs Green by the end of next year.

In an online Times poll, almost 60 per cent of respondents said Redcliffe’s plans should not have been approved.

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