‘WE GOT IT WRONG’ – Councillors call for North Somerset to axe plans for thousands of homes

Councillors are concerned by plans for 'garden villages'.

Councillors are concerned by plans for 'garden villages'. - Credit: Archant

Plans to create ‘garden villages’ in the countryside faced fierce scrutiny this week, as councillors labelled the proposals ‘totally wrong’ and urged for planners to go back to the drawing board.

North Somerset Council’s local plan, which will be the framework for housing development in the next two decades, came under fire at a meeting of the authority’s strategic planning and economic development scrutiny panel (SPED) on Tuesday.

Councillors called for a U-turn on the plan, with the idea to build a pair of garden villages totalling 4,000 homes near Banwell and Churchill a particular point of contention.

The local plan is part of the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), which requires North Somerset to oversee the creation of 25,000 homes by 2036 – but Cllr Peter Burden described the plan as a ‘super tanker gaining speed’.

He said: “We haven’t only got to veer its direction; I believe it’s got to go into reverse. We are going down the route of throwing away 40 years of planning policy.

“I really think we have to say ‘stop now’. We are going the wrong way, the entire strategy is wrong.

“The public we have consulted have come back to us telling us it is wrong. We have got virtually no support from anybody but landowners for the Churchill proposal. This is the wrong direction.”

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Weston Hillside councillor John Crockford-Hawley believes the plan will lead to houses being built ‘where nobody wants them’.

He said: “We are trying to fit something in which we don’t really believe in, specifically these garden villages.

“I don’t for the life of me see how this is going to be integrated with any employment prospects.

“There is no way, a glorified housing estate around about Churchill, is going to be a place where people wish to go and live and will also be employed in that area.

“There is not a cat in hell’s chance of that happening. People will be commuting, adding to the problems we already have.”

An alternative proposal has been put forward by housing developer Taylor Wimpey, which would see three villages called The Vale created near Long Ashton, in the greenbelt.

Cllr Crockford-Hawley called for the council to ‘cut its losses and go with The Vale’ plans instead of the garden villages.