Greenbelt could be redrawn to make way for thousands of new homes
- Credit: Archant
The greenbelt may have to be redrawn so North Somerset can house 30,000 new residents over the next 18 years.
Council leaders are planning where to build 20,500 new homes – enough to fill Clevedon twice over.
Options span from focussing all the homes in Weston and on the edge of Bristol, to a more spread out approach with growth in existing towns and villages.
After withdrawing from the West of England’s collaborative joint spatial plan, North Somerset Council is drawing up its next Local Plan.
A key issue will be balancing protecting the greenbelt – which currently covers 40 per cent of the district and can only be built on in exceptional circumstances – against the climate emergency.
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A report to next week’s executive meeting says: “People value the greenbelt and it has been very effective over the years.
“However, this must be balanced against aspects such as the need to meet emission targets, reduce travelling and build closer to where a lot of people work and spend their leisure time if we are to begin to seriously address climate change.
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“The starting point for looking at future growth has been to consider whether it is possible to maintain the current greenbelt and still build the homes needed in sustainable locations.”
Without a new Local Plan, North Somerset faces the ‘lottery of planning by appeal’.
The report warns: “There would be no local control or real influence over where or how the housing is built.”
The council will also have to plan for 13,500 new jobs by finding nearly 100 hectares for businesses.
The council is currently weighing up six options:
n Retaining the greenbelt, which is likely to make it challenging to build enough houses in sustainable locations.
n Focusing the majority of the development around the largest urban areas, with 3,000 homes east of the M5 at Weston and 5,000 homes south west of Bristol.
n Building at the four towns and on the Bristol fringe.
n Building in Weston, Nailsea and the Bristol fringe, away from the flood zones in Clevedon and Portishead.
n Building around transport hubs to maximise use of public transport.
n Dispersing development across the district, which is seen as the least sustainable option.
The executive is being asked to endorse the guiding principles of the Local Plan’s spatial strategy.
And with its approval the council will launch an online consultation on May 18, with face-to-face events later in the year when social distancing is relaxed.
Further consultations will take place next year.