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Director’s bulletin, December 2014

Monday, 01 December 2014 15:49

CPRE Avonside director's bulletin Dec 2014 main image

Happy Christmas to all our volunteers, members and supporters. It’s been a hectic five months since I started as Director of CPRE Avonside, and I could not have managed without your help and support. There have been lots of events to organise and promote as well as the usual planning and policy work, which each of our district groups have been busy with at a local level. I have been experimenting with using twitter to publicise our organisation, work and events. Take a look at our account and receive regular updates by following us using this link at the bottom of this email. With a general election coming up and Bristol Green Capital 2015, we shall be looking forward to a busy but hopefully productive year ahead!

Update on our local District Groups

Much of our active campaigning takes place at a District level, with District groups responsible for overseeing CPRE’s work in their local areas. Planning policy is an important consideration for our local volunteers as it has such a significant impact on our countryside. For those not so familiar with planning terms, The Core Strategy is the key planning policy document for each planning district, setting out the general location of development, its type and scale, as well as protecting what is valued about the area. CPRE Avonside has been very involved in campaigning to influence the Core Strategies in each of our three district groups.

South Gloucestershire news

The South Gloucestershire district’s Core strategy is now adopted, but we have been dealing with some recent solar and wind energy applications, as well as plans for a large development at the Skansa site west of the A4018 at Cribbs Causeway. We have also responded to an application for a significant housing development Filton Airfield. There are proposed experimental floodlights in Westbury on Trym, which we have objected to, especially on dark skies, landscape backdrop and the effect on wildlife. There are no Neighbourhood plans in South Gloucestershire, but most recently we’ve responded to the South Gloucestershire Statement of Community Involvement consultation.

Bristol

Bristol does not currently have a separate district group, so work is undertaken by the South Gloucestshire district (for North Bristol), the North Somerset District (for South Bristol), and by the Branch. The Core Strategy is now adopted, so no new work on that. We are currently involved in two Alliances: the Alliance to Re-think MetroBus home | armalliancetorethinkmetrobus, and The Blue Finger Alliance http://www.bluefingeralliance.org.uk/. In the summer we responded to a consultation on Construction of North Fringe to Hengrove Package (NFHP) MetroBus: 14/01187/FB and to an application to make changes to Stapleton Allotments, as a result of the MetroBus gaining approval.

Campaigning to Rethink Metrobus

Campaigning to ‘Rethink Metrobus’ at the site of Stapleton Allotments and Feed Bristol. Despite significant objections the new route off the M32 motorway through this green space was given approval.

North Somerset News

Despite North Somerset Core Strategy going through the formal process and being adopted, a High Court challenge was then made in 2013 by Bristol University leading to the originally accepted housing numbers of 14,000 being rejected. CPRE North Somerset attended and spoke at the Inspector Hearings early in 2014 and is due to participate again in January 2015 where developers are now seeking new housing numbers of twice that previously agreed (28,000). Developers are using this planning void to submit applications for large developments in green fields and open countryside which we oppose. We are working locally and nationally to influence policy to ensure a proper plan led approach. In addition to housing we are seeing numerous applications for solar farms and relaxations in permitted development regulations introduced this year by the Government having detrimental impacts on the countryside. We have also been responding to new policies, our most recent being the changes to Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy which provides new regulations for developer contributions.
The North Somerset Core Strategy Hearings are to be held on the 6th and 7th January 2015 at the Winter Gardens, Weston-super-Mare starting at 10am. See http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/Environment/Planning_policy_and-research/localplanning/Pages/Core-Strategy-re-examination.aspx for further information.

Bath and North East Somerset news

The Bath and North East Somerset group was active in 2014 in trying to influence the local Core Strategy. This process dated back to 2007 but had been repeatedly delayed. The group had commented on a new draft issued in late 2013 and had a number of meetings with Senior Planners. Members of the committee attended the hearings which took place over three weeks in March 2014. In June the Inspector decided to remove the Council’s proposal to include housing on Green Belt land at Weston, Bath but accepted the Council’s proposals for housing at Odd Down, Whitchurch and Keynsham East. The draft was formally accepted by the Council in July. We realised that housing targets set left the Council with few options and took some comfort from the fact that the adoption of the Strategy should, for the moment, remove the possibility of other large developments being approved on Green Belt or Green Field sites. However we have recently been in contact with the Council and our MP about three brigaded appeals by the one developer concerning Greenfield sites despite them not being included in the Core Strategy. We are pleased to note that a number of areas are proceeding with the development of Neighbourhood Plans. We have recently been contacted about one plan that did not seem to offer adequate protection to prevent unsuitable developments and have made appropriate comments to the Council about this.

We held a very successful and well attended ‘hustings’ event with our local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates in the Autumn and will report on this further in the new year. We are holding our first meeting of 2015 in January and would welcome suggestions from Members about where our priorities should lie for next year.

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