Local Group Name - Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Standing up for local communities and the countryside in North Somerset

Friday, 20 March 2015 13:57

CPRE supports the unprecedented appeal by North Somerset Council to Government to intervene in dire planning situation

CPRE Avonside believes that planning policy should be decided with local communities, not imposed upon them. This is the reaction to the news today (20 March 2015) that North Somerset Council, supported by MPs Liam Fox and John Penrose, have written to the Minister for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis, to ask him to intervene in the recent decision to impose 21,000 new houses in North Somerset, 50% higher than originally agreed in the Council’s Core Strategy.

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 not convinced that the conclusions of the second examination are in the best interests of communities or the local countryside.

Unsurprisingly this situation has led to applications from developers for 1,000s of new houses, often on unsustainable but ‘easy’ locations. This is contrary to the Government’s support for a ‘plan led’ system and the wishes of local communities.

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. We were involved in the original Core Strategy process in 2012, and have also represented the interests of the environment at the subsequent re-examinations. Most recently, CPRE Avonside volunteers were the only organisation representing the interests of communities and the environment at the re-examination hearing 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.

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."

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