Residents across the West of England will be able to have a further say on the West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) and Joint Transport Study (JTS), when the next phase of the consultation opens on 7 November.
The four West of England councils – North Somerset, Bristol City, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset – are responding to an acute need to provide new homes and improved infrastructure, if the region is to meet the housing shortfall, continue to create jobs, and increase economic growth and prosperity.
It is anticipated that we could need up to 105,000 new homes across the region between now and 2036, of which 66,000 have already been planned for, as part of existing Core Strategies. This is alongside improved infrastructure – including transport, road links, and various community facilities. The four councils have therefore agreed to prepare the JSP and JTS in parallel.
Over the coming weeks each council will receive an update on progress so far and be asked to endorse the process for further public consultation.
Last year the four councils ran a consultation process to gain people’s thoughts and ideas to help set the approach and priorities. Comments and ideas were received from the public as well as other stakeholders, including regional businesses and transport providers.
Having taken on board the consultation feedback, the next phase of the process is to consult again, this time on outline proposals that would allow the West of England to address the following priorities:
• Respond to the housing shortage – both now and in the future
• Invest in new infrastructure – to support increased demand from growing communities such as integrating housing and employment with transport to reduce the length and numbers of journeys to work
• Support economic growth and improve levels of prosperity – creating new jobs
• Prioritising development on brownfield sites – rejuvenating existing derelict land and protecting the green belt
• Any new development must take account of the need to protect a high-quality environment
• Help fulfil the councils’ legal duty to Co-operate under the National Planning Policy Framework.
The Leaders of North Somerset Council, Nigel Ashton, South Gloucestershire Council, Matthew Riddle, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Tim Warren and the Mayor of Bristol City Council, Marvin Rees, said:
“The challenge we face as a region that is continuing to grow, is to continue to develop our economic prosperity in a way that benefits all our communities and protects the planet.
“We’re responding to the needs of our growing population; increasing demands for homes and jobs, and seeking to address the issue of affordability for people on lower salaries wanting to buy or rent their own home. There is a significant gap between the cost of houses and the level of income and whilst we cannot narrow the gap alone, we want to give more people the opportunity to get onto the housing ladder.
“Our intention is to have a joined-up approach to providing the homes that people need and the supporting infrastructure, whilst retaining the individuality of each community. This is an opportunity to ensure that the housing is matched by the necessary support and facilities. This could mean new roads, public transport, schools, and health facilities to meet local needs.
“No decisions have been made at this stage, but we are in agreement that affordable housing is a high priority that will mean the next generation can live and work in the West of England and benefit from growing business and employment opportunities. We’re also committed to prioritising development on brownfield sites to rejuvenate existing derelict land.
“The solutions to these challenges will affect each of our council areas, which is why we are taking this joint approach and why we will consult extensively with all the communities and stakeholders across the West of England from the start of November.”
The consultation process is due to launch on 7 November and run until 19 December 2016. More details about the areas highlighted for potential development, as well the approach to transport projects to meet existing and future demand will be provided as part of the full consultation materials at that time.