'Unwanted expansion' ahead for North Somerset after Government orders council to find land for 2,500 more homes?
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 July 2017
'Desecration' could await North Somerset' after the Government ordered the local authority to plan for thousands of new homes to meet national benchmarks.
North Somerset Council’s site allocations plan, which earmarks housing sites in line with national standards, was reviewed by the Government in May.
It was confirmed this week the council must allocate land for 2,500 more homes to ensure it will reach its target of 20,985 houses between 2006-2026.
Inspector Wendy Burden found the council’s plan had allocated enough land to meet expectations, but ‘additional sites are required to make up for those which are unlikely to be delivered’ in time.
Around 9,000 of the 20,985 homes have been built in the district since 2006, but ‘there are no easy sites left’, according to the council’s executive member for strategic planning Elfan Ap Rees, who believes North Somerset has been hampered by ‘slow’ developers.
He said: “We’ve already taken significant steps to increase the supply of housing to meet the core strategy requirement, granting permissions in towns and villages and allocating new sites to boost the supply, but we are constrained by developers whose delivery has been slow.
“Now there are no easy sites left, yet the inspector is requiring further growth in case the already identified sites do not materialise.
“That approach gives developers an easy ride and does not protect us against unwanted expansion. In my view it would be far better to ensure developers build the allocated houses where we want.”
Congresbury Residents’ Action Group hopes North Somerset’s villages will not be expected to accommodate more homes.
Chairman Mary Short said: “If there is a need for more housing, it is social housing in areas closer to where people can reach amenities.
“Cllr Ap Rees is right to call for developers to be forced to use the banked land before more approvals are given.
“The council is reviewing its greenbelt policy, and we urge it to think seriously before desecrating the countryside around our villages any more than it has already.”
John Whitewood, of Churchill and Langford Residents’ Action Group said: “There still really isn’t a plan. We don’t know where we’re going and we don’t know how we’re going to get there.
“Where are the jobs? Who are the employers? How can our roads possibly cope?”