Government to settle housing row

PUBLISHED: 16:38 08 April 2015

Archant

THE housing requirement for North Somerset will be reviewed after the Government announced it will intervene.

In an unprecedented move, Secretary of State for Communities and Government Eric Pickles has called in a planning inspector’s ruling that 20,985 homes must be built by the end of 2026.

North Somerset Council and then-incumbent MPs John Penrose and Liam Fox called on the Government to intervene, fearing the inspector’s decision would leave the countryside open to unwanted development.

The council’s core strategy, which outlines long-term planning aims for the area, originally pencilled in 14,000 new homes between 2006-2026, but revised its target to 17,000 following a legal challenge. However planning inspector Roland Punshon later ruled this was too low.

Mr Pickles’ move means the Government will have the final say, although this does not mean the total number will necessarily go down.

David Turner, the council’s director of development, is pleased Mr Pickles ‘acknowledges the unique set of circumstances’.

Mr Penrose added: “The minister called in the inspector’s decision, because it would have ridden roughshod over the democratic wishes of local people.

“The inspector wanted to impose thousands more houses than local residents would accept, and force them to be built far too fast as well.

“We’re battling wrong-headed planning applications in villages like Congresbury, and this would make it open season for building all over beautiful local countryside.

“There’s nothing wrong with building more homes for local residents, but let’s make sure they’re in the right places, like central parts of Weston where we can build up not out to reduce pressure from urban sprawl on rural villages.

“The battle isn’t over but the fact the minister has called this in, for the first time ever, is an important first step.”

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