As part of the development and assessment of the West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), further information is being published for public comment before being passed to the Independent Planning Inspectors who are undertaking the Examination in Public (EiP). The four West of England Councils – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire – submitted the JSP to the Secretary of State in April this year for examination. The JSP sets out the policies and principles for determining the most appropriate and sustainable locations for future development, in order to meet the region’s housing, employment and transport needs through to 2036.
Since its submission, two Independent Planning Inspectors were appointed by the Minister to conduct the examination, to determine whether the Plan complies with existing laws and regulations and that it meets the regional growth needs. The Inspectors have requested additional information from the councils. In line with approach taken throughout the process, this information will be published, but before it is submitted to the Inspectors it will also be subject to public and stakeholder comment and that feedback will also be provided to the Inspectors for consideration.
There will be nine new and updated documents published, as follows:
- Schedule of Proposed Changes – suggests changes to the JSP since it was submitted to the Secretary of State in April 2018.
- Duty to Cooperate Paper – demonstrates how the Unitary Authorities have met the Duty to Cooperate with adjoining authorities and other public bodies in preparing the JSP.
- Site requirements for the Strategic Development Locations – sets out the justification of the site requirements for the 12 Strategic Development Locations in Policy 7 of the JSP.
- Updated Viability Assessment – demonstrates that the spatial strategy and development requirements in the JSP are viable and deliverable at a strategic level
- Updated Employment Evidence – demonstrates there is sufficient supply of employment land across the WoE to support economic growth ambitions.
- Transport Topic Paper 8 – explains the programme of transport measures needed to support the JSP in terms of potential projects that may alleviate traffic congestion, encourage more journeys to be made via public transport or via improved cycle and walking routes and that will connect new and growing communities with new and growing services and employment opportunities. The measures are options at this stage to inform public debate. (Further details and additional research on the potential transport projects, including additional consultation, will be undertaken through each council’s local plan preparations next year.)
- Emerging Findings Transport Report – an assessment of the transport schemes and options needed to deliver the JSP, which at this stage focusses on identifying the critical issues and identifies strategic options that could help improve travel options and mitigate the effects of additional traffic demand on the network.
- Consolidated Sustainability Appraisal – an appraisal of the economic, environmental and social impacts of the Plan and how the preferred strategy has been chosen in light of the alternative options.
- Updated Habitats Regulations Assessment – a statutory requirement, which seeks to ensure that the habitats and species of European importance are protected.
The additional evidence is published today (Monday 12 November) and will be open for submissions to be made until Monday 7 January, 2019. The Updated Habitats Regulations Assessment will be available from Monday 26 November.
Once this process is complete, these documents and stakeholder feedback received will be provided to the Independent Planning Inspectors to consider, as they prepare for the next phase of their assessment of the JSP.
Information and details on the consultation process and how to comment are available online at www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk. Printed copies of the additional evidence are available in council offices and main libraries in Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and at South Gloucestershire One Stop Shops.
Speaking on behalf of the four West of England councils, Bob Goodman, Cllr from BANES said: “We are really pleased to continue making progress on the JSP through the examination process and working constructively with the Inspectors on the next steps. The JSP is fundamental to us as we work together to manage local and regional growth collectively.”