Government housing verdict due by end of June

PUBLISHED: 13:34 10 June 2015

North Somerset Council expects a decision on its housing requirement by the end of the month.

North Somerset Council expects a decision on its housing requirement by the end of the month.

Archant

A DECISION on the number of houses needed to be built in North Somerset, which could have a major impact on the future of the district, is expected by the end of the month.

The authority’s Core Strategy – a legal document which outlines its long-term planning regulations – was challenged by the University of Bristol over the number of houses it felt were necessary.

North Somerset Council wanted 14,000 homes to be built between 2006-2026 but independent planning inspector Roland Punshon ruled that was insufficient and raised the target to almost 21,000.

He also declared that the housing backlog must be cleared within five years too.

MPs John Penrose and Dr Liam Fox however referred the case to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government because they felt the higher figure was ‘unacceptable’ and would put North Somerset’s greenbelt at risk. It is his decision that is expected this month.

The uncertainty over the Core Strategy and the number of homes needed for the district has led to an influx of housing applications in rural areas including Bleadon, Congresbury and Sandford.

The Government’s decision is expected by the end of next month, according to Cllr Jill Iles, the newly-elected vice-chairman of the council’s planning and regulatory committee.

Councillors will hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether they should change their strategy on how to decide on planning applications

Cllr Iles said: “We could decide to refuse these major housing applications and go down the route of appeals, but that could be dire.

“Or, we start looking at the cumulative impact which I think is what members want.

“At the moment we are meant to look at each application on its own merits but I think it is now time to look at the cumulative impacts (because so many housing applications have come in).”

If a change is brought in then campaigners in areas such as Yatton are likely to particularly benefit, with seven developers keen to build in the village.

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