Local Group Name - Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Government decision on housing numbers in North Somerset could be disastrous for the local countryside

Thursday, 24 September 2015 12:25

The Campaign to Protect Rural England’s group in North Somerset was disappointed to learn of the decision by Government housing minister Brandon Lewis to uphold an increase in housing numbers for the district from 14,000 – democratically agreed with the local community in 2012 – to 21,000 - a 50% increase on the previous figure.

Against the wishes of ourselves, much of the local community, local councillors and the two local MPs, this kind of increase in housing figures will make defending our beautiful countryside from ever more housing and roads all the more difficult.

CPRE Chair, Georgie Bigg said, “North Somerset’s countryside is highly valued for its beauty and tranquillity. We need to ensure that we protect this open space so that it can be a resource for everyone, whilst situating new houses within existing towns, villages and urban areas, allowing them to benefit from the subsequent regeneration.”

The main lobbyists for increasing the housing numbers came from well-funded developers looking to advance their own commercial interests. They claim to want to solve the housing crisis, but all too often they want to build the most lucrative type of housing, large and expensive houses on easy to develop green field sites. There is no shortage of suitable sites for brownfield development in both Weston-super-Mare and Bristol.

CPRE Avonside believes strongly that new housing is needed, but we believe in a brownfield first policy. New housing should meet the needs of local people, much of it should be affordable, and it should be situated in locations that can easily be supported by public transport and amenities such as schools and shops.

Already, with the plan under review, developers have been quick to seize the opportunity to put in applications for 1,000s of new homes mostly on unsustainable green field locations.

North Somerset Council’s Core Strategy (the main local planning policy document) was consulted on and adopted in April 2012. This democratically agreed plan was successfully challenged through the courts by Bristol University in 2013 on its housing requirement policy, leaving the Council with an incomplete plan. Since then, that policy and other policies have been re-examined, and North Somerset Council is disappointed with the housing Minister’s final decision.

CPRE Avonside were involved in the original Core Strategy process in 2012, and have represented the interests of the environment at the subsequent re-examinations. Most recently, we were the only organisation representing the interests of communities and the environment at the Public Examination into housing numbers in January 2015, opposing the 12 developers represented. We support North Somerset Council’s aim to link new housing with employment and to regenerate areas such as Weston-super-Mare, rather than building on our precious green fields.

ENDS

To contact CPRE Avonside please call Sophie Spencer on 07854741130 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @cpreavonside

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