Developers say 105,000 homes for West of England is not enough

Malcolm Rivett and Steven Lee at the start of the JSP hearing. Picture: BBC/Stephen Sumner

Malcolm Rivett and Steven Lee at the start of the JSP hearing. Picture: BBC/Stephen Sumner - Credit: BBC/Stephen Sumner

Developers have argued building 105,000 homes across the West of England over a 20-year period is insufficient, and believe greenbelt areas should be opened up for housing.

A hearing began yesterday (Tuesday) looking into the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) which has been produced by Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset's councils over where homes should be built.

Two garden villages, close to Churchill and Banwell featuring 2,700 and 1,900 homes respectively, form part of the proposals.

Approximately 25,000 homes are earmarked to be built in North Somerset, from 2016-36, within the JSP.

Numerous submissions to JSP planning inspectors Malcolm Rivett and Steven Lee called for the greenbelt to be reviewed.

North Somerset Council's previous Conservative administration protected the greenbelt and refused to review what areas should fall into it.

But developers Taylor Wimpey and Bovis Homes have said more greenbelt land across the West of England should be released for development.

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Bloor Homes and Barratt Homes also said the target of 105,000 houses will not be enough to meet future demand across the West of England, claiming at least 140,000 homes will be needed.

The proposals to build thousands of homes in rural parts of North Somerset have been met with criticism.

Hashi Mohamed, representing Churchill and Langford Residents Action Group (CALRAG), said North Somerset Council's decision to 'leapfrog' the greenbelt and propose homes near Churchill and Banwell, was the 'elephant in the room'.

He said the issues could not be solved by 'tinkering' and claimed there are 'fundamental flaws' in the JSP.

Concerns over infrastructure have been raised by campaigners.

Mr Rivett and Mr Lee plan to spend the first two days of the inquiry in Bath analysing the legal compliance and scope of the JSP.

Attention will turn tomorrow (Thursday) to consider the housing requirement, before the focus shifts next week to look at the housing locations identified by all four councils.

Further hearings are planned in September and October.

A decision on the JSP's validity and adoption is not expected before the end of the year.