The draft of the West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) has been submitted to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government today (Friday 13 April).
This marks the culmination of three years of joint working and public engagement to develop a strategy to help guide planning for housing and business growth across the Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire council areas for the next 20 years.
The JSP sets out the policies and principles that have been applied in determining the most appropriate and sustainable locations for future development. These policies and principles have been refined through extensive stakeholder engagement and three consultation exercises, where individuals, communities and other groups have made contributions to help shape the future growth of the region.
The next stage in the process will be for the Government to review the Plan. It is expected to appoint an Independent Planning Inspector to conduct an Examination in Public in the autumn. The Inspector will then make a report back to the local authorities and may propose further amendments. Once satisfied that the Plan meets all planning rules and laws, each council will then consider whether or not to adopt the Plan. Subject to that approval, the JSP would sit above and guide the review of the councils’ own Local Plans.
The West of England JSP is the first such joint planning approach in the UK, which sees Councils working together to agree the number of new homes and jobs that are needed; the most appropriate locations where that growth should be located; and the infrastructure needed to support that growth.
Alongside the JSP, the four councils are taking forward the findings of the Joint Transport Study (JTS), which is designed to help the region meet the increasing infrastructure demands that new growth will bring, as well as identifying the projects that are needed to tackle existing pressure on road and public transport networks. This includes providing public transport, cycling and walking infrastructure to reduce reliance on cars and highway improvements to tackle congestion.
A Transport Topic Paper, which provides further detail on the infrastructure investments being considered to support the growth proposed in the JSP is also being submitted. This expands on the ideas explored in earlier transport consultations and will form the basis of detailed public engagement on each of the projects, as part of each Authorities new Local Plan development work, later this year.
The Draft Plan as well as a report identifying the key issues raised in the most recent consultation and other information that supports the submission stage are available online at www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk