Report by James Franklin , Reporter
Friday, June 22, 2012
NORTH Somerset Council’s deputy leader says the authority must ‘lay down the law’ to make sure more jobs are created for people in and around Weston.
Councillor Elfan Ap Rees has decided to call in an application by developer St Modwen for a second phase of homes at the former RAF Locking site, saying the firm must do more to create employment before more housing is built.
That means the decision will now be discussed by councillors at the authority’s south area planning committee next month, with Cllr Ap Rees saying: “We can’t go on building houses in Weston until we start getting more jobs in.”
Last month St Modwen and the Home and Communities Agency handed in an application to build 150 homes at the Locking Parklands site.
That would only be the second phase of a £400million development, with 100 homes already built at the site and some of them now occupied.
When finished, the site will contain up to 2,400 homes and 30 hectares of employment space, but Cllr Ap Rees, the authority’s executive member for strategic planning, has echoed the concerns of Locking Parish Council, which wants jobs created before more houses are built.
He said: “My main concern is that we have yet to see any employment generated at the site.
“Although there are plans to build employment space, we agreed to phase one of the development on the understanding that that would provide employment.
“I think it’s premature to have an application for phase two until they have actually started creating something which will produce jobs.”
Cllr Ap Rees said he is also concerned about whether there will be adequate car parking available.
He continued: “I firmly believe that we have got to lay the law down because otherwise we’re back to where we were with Locking Castle, just building lots of houses without creating the infrastructure and creating problems for people going out of the town and it’s got to stop.”
A spokesman for the developer said the phase two application was ‘entirely consistent’ with the policy objectives set out in the council’s core strategy, while the provision of car parking also met the standards of the authority’s strategy.
She said work started on a 6,000sq ft commercial space in April. The site will be able to accommodate 60 jobs and is due for completion in the autumn.
She added: “Proposals for community facilities will be included in an outline planning application for the comprehensive redevelopment of the site due to be submitted later this year following a further round of public consultation.
“All necessary infrastructure works are being delivered on a phased basis in line with our initial plans and North Somerset Council’s requirements.”