Weston to be 'bursting' with houses

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 August 2014

Archant

WESTON will soon be 'full to bursting' with homes, prompting the council to fight the Government for the right to limit development to protect greenbelt land.

North Somerset has been advised by the Planning Inspectorate it needs to build up to 25,950 new homes in the next 12 years, under its core housing strategy plan.

The inspectorate deemed the authority’s proposal of 17,130 as ‘inadequate’ and the council has now written back proposing a compromise of nearly 21,000 and stating its case as to why it should stay at the ‘bottom range’ of the targets.

Deputy council leader Elfan Ap Rees said: “If it was any higher then we do not believe the developers would be able to build those numbers in the timeframe.

“We are restricted in what areas we can put residential development which is viable because of the flood plane areas and we want to continue to protect greenbelt land and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

“Weston is going to be full to bursting once we have done Weston Village.

“When you look at these constraints on a map you’re getting pretty limited as to where you can put residential development.” The inspector’s advice came after a legal challenge was brought about by the University of Bristol, which wanted to create 1,000 homes in the area, and saw no backing through the authority’s core strategy.

The authority’s original housing target of 14,000 was considered ‘unlawful’ by the High Court and also stated several features of the strategy for housing development and future proposals had to be examined.

This was followed by comment from planning inspector Roland Punshon who said he did not find the strategy ‘sound or compliant with national guidance’.

Now the council needs to look at other sites where homes could be built and in a letter back to the inspector it said: “The council was hugely disappointed that you were not able to conclude that the recommended increase in the housing requirement to the objectively assessed target of 17,130 dwellings was sufficient in the interim to allow the plan to proceed.

“Having considered your letter and in response we propose that the North Somerset housing requirement is increased to 20,985 dwellings for 2006-2026.”

Cllr Ap Rees added: “Unless the inspector accepts our modified core strategy then it’s going to be open season because it would be very difficult for us to defend applications and appeals by developers in some parts of the district.”

The core strategy letter also said: “This is an interim approach, pending review, in the light of the new strategic housing market assessment, which will identify housing needs across the sub-region to 2036.”

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