Plans for 25,000 homes may not be enough to satisfy Government
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 June 2018
A housing masterplan which sets out 25,000 homes in North Somerset may not go far enough to satisfy the Government, planning experts believe.
North Somerset Council worked with neighbouring authorities in the West of England to create the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), which proposes where 105,500 homes will go up to 2036.
The plans include 700 homes in Backwell, 2,575 in Nailsea and 2,575 divided between two garden villages outside Banwell and Churchill.
However, the council’s planning and policy manager Michael Reep believes this may not be enough.
He said: “We are waiting for the inspector to set out a timetable for the hearings, and we will be making representations at those hearings.
“The big issue will be housing numbers, and we expect the inspector will start with the housing numbers. My view is the numbers will go up.”
Campaign groups who oppose the garden villages believe greenbelt land between Barrow Gurney and Long Ashton would be a better proposition, given its proximity to Bristol.
Developer Taylor Wimpey has expressed its desire to build on the land, called The Vale, but faces opposition from the council because it is greenbelt.
However, Mr Reep believes The Vale could end up as an addition to the JSP, not a swap for Banwell and Churchill.
He said: “I expect it will not be a choice about Banwell, Churchill and the edge of Bristol, but pressure to do Banwell, Churchill and other locations. But there is still a long way to go with that debate.”
Senior councillors have vowed to protect the greenbelt, with leader Nigel Ashton saying previously building at The Vale would benefit Bristol, not North Somerset.
The council is still waiting to learn when hearings to scrutinise the JSP will take place, and Backwell Parish Council and Nailsea Town Council have sought legal advice ahead of those proceedings.
Housing action groups around Churchill have been given hope the garden villages could be dismissed following a decision about Essex’s housing plan, where a planning inspector found proposals for three garden ‘communities’ were ‘unsound’.
Mr Reep said: “I don’t think it undermines our position, but does show the kind of issues we need to address when going to the hills for the JSP.”