MAP: See where thousands of homes will be built by 2036 as council warns ‘easy options’ are all gone
PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 February 2017
A senior North Somerset Council planner has warned the district faces ‘difficult’ and ‘controversial’ decisions when deciding where to build new homes in the next 20 years – and feels a mix of development would be the best way of solving the area’s housing crisis.
Some 104,000 homes are expected to be built in the West of England region – which incorporates North Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset – by 2036 as part of the area’s emerging joint spatial plan (JSP).
Of this number, 11,000 homes will be built in North Somerset, with plans afoot to create a new 5,400 home garden village in between Banwell and Churchill and a long-awaited Banwell bypass.
However, the council’s planning policy manager Michael Reep warned a meeting of the North Somerset Green Party that deciding where the new homes should go will be a complex – and potentially unpopular – process.
Mr Reep said: “The easy options have all gone. Everything is difficult and controversial and it will all affect someone.
“We need to really explore the intensification of urban areas but there are some people living in urban areas who may not want their areas to become even more urbanised.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. There is a mix of new locations and adding to existing communities but we need to find that mix so we have sustainable development in North Somerset and the West of England.”
Mr Reep also admitted to the meeting that North Somerset in particular was facing a housing ‘crisis’, which was partially caused by developers acquiring planning permission to develop greenfield sites and then abstaining from building new homes in a bid to drive up profits.
However, he also said the JSP provided an ‘opportunity’ to bring more jobs to Weston and the south of the district.
Mr Reep said: “The council certainly feels there is an opportunity here to lock in investment and money to try and address some transport issues for the future and provide employment opportunity in the south of the district.
“We are trying to get jobs in Weston after so many years of decline – recently, jobs are coming back.
“It is about changing an attitude in the commercial sector but hopefully things are moving in the right direction gradually.”