Plan for 25,000 new homes is 'least worse option' - council leader

PUBLISHED: 11:28 17 November 2017

Thousands more homes need to be built in North Somerset,

Thousands more homes need to be built in North Somerset,

Archant

Plans to build 25,000 homes in North Somerset over a 20-year period have moved forward, with the council leader labelling it the 'least worse option' available.

On Tuesday, North Somerset Council’s executive agreed to press on with the joint spatial plan (JSP) for the West of England – which if adopted would see 105,500 homes built across the district plus Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset.

But concerns over a lack of infrastructure to support house-building were raised.

Of the 25,000 homes needed, more than 50 per cent of them have been identified as many sites have planning permission or have already been selected in other council plans.

But it does mean room for about 1,000 homes would have to be found in urban North Somerset areas – with apartment blocks mooted for Weston.

Other areas for development outlined in the JSP are ‘garden villages’, such as a 2,675-home development near Churchill and almost 2,000 in Banwell. Officers say a Banwell Bypass would be built ‘in step’ with those homes.

The plan will go out to public consultation and – subject to major amendments – on to the Government next spring.

The JSP is the result of three years’ work and has been accepted by the other councils.

Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “What we have been doing in recent years has been damage limitation.”

He said the council had ‘fought’ against such high housing targets for five years.

Cllr Ashton added: “I have huge misgivings about the numbers and the infrastructure.

“The difficulty is we don’t build houses. Developers can take 20 years to complete projects and they don’t put infrastructure in until the end. It is a complete mess.”

He said positive noises had been made by the Government about providing cash for much-needed infrastructure and said that was imperative so council can meet the housing targets required of it.

However, Cllr Tom Leimdorfer questioned whether the Government would be inclined to invest in North Somerset infrastructure when its two political seats are considered safe.

Failure to adopt the JSP would hand developers an advantage, according to deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees, as they want 150,000 homes across the region.

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