Council speaks out on housing plans

PUBLISHED: 12:30 15 January 2016


North Somerset Council has defended the process it uses to determine housing applications after losing the right to decide whether three large developments should be given the go-ahead.

Housing developers Strongvox and Gladman Homes have applied to the council for planning permission to build three developments, totalling 287 homes, in Congresbury, Banwell and Sandford.

However, the council took too long to decide whether the applications should be approved or refused and the developers have now launched appeals on the grounds of non-determination – meaning the fate of the developments will now be decided by a planning inspector instead of by local councillors.

The Banwell application, which could see 155 homes built off Knightcott Road, was discussed alongside the Congresbury application – which is for 14 homes off Venus Street – at a meeting of the council’s planning and regulatory committee on Wednesday. Both applications would have been recommended for refusal had the developers not lodged the appeals.

When asked whether the appeals meant the council was losing power by taking too long to determine applications, an authority spokesman insisted it is not ‘giving up any rights’.

The spokesman said: “Some applicants are reacting to informal advice and are going to appeal before waiting for the formal paperwork.

“We are bringing these cases forward to the planning and regulatory committee, where a report is prepared for councillors’ consideration to endorse the decision that they would have turned the application down.

“It certainly is not a case of giving up any rights by taking too long to approve or refuse applications.”

The council spokesman also stressed that the authority would not lose out on vital section 106 funding as a result of the appeals.

Section 106 agreements are made between a developer and the council and ensure that a developer contributes money to build infrastructure associated with new homes, such as schools, roads and doctors’ surgeries.

The spokesman said: “Section 106 agreements are not affected by the appeals.

“A signed and agreed section 106 document forms part of the papers the inspector considers at an appeal.”

Congresbury and Banwell parish councils also voted to oppose the developments earlier this year, with Congresbury councillors arguing the Venus Street plan would have an adverse impact on the area and its infrastructure.

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