August 2018: Your Local MP

July 30 2018

Addressing housing policy

South Gloucestershire Council has allocated huge numbers for future housing in Filton, Emersons Green and other built up areas with good and existing transport links in recent years. However, the current predicament of not being able to meet our ‘5 year supply’ of housing sites across South Gloucestershire means that Thornbury continues to be a target for speculative developers. 

There has been robust debate about the impact this has had on our town over recent years, and I have consistently raised the issue in Parliament, in debates, with housing Ministers and with the Minister right here in Thornbury.

This is national policy issue. The pressure placed on the 5 year land supply by developers dragging their feet on permission granted land, only for them to place speculative applications in areas such as Thornbury is being recognised nationally and is one of the many areas the Government is now refining the coalition’s National Planning Policy Framework to ensure it works for our communities. 

In summary of the new powers being considered include;

• An objective review on the reasoning for slow build out rates, beyond the often cited skill shortages, and land issues defence that developers use. There is likely to be evidenced acknowledgment that developers are more concerned with the absorption rate on the local housing market, such as the price for which they can get for the housing, than the aforementioned shortages of skills. This is a significant turning point in then giving the Government, and authorities such as ours the powers to act upon cases such as that we are experiencing. 

• Standardising the Housing needs assessment for the 5 year land supply issue, and allowing Councils to fix this year on year.  

• Improving transparency, so that communities can identify who has interest in land, such as around Thornbury. 

• Bringing in policy that a developer’s inaction, or slow build out can be used against them in turning down fresh applications in another area. (Which would be extremely helpful to us here in Thornbury)

• Empowering Council’s to serve stronger completion notices on sites that have stalled, to withdraw permissions. 

I will be continuing to update you all but please be reassured that Government is taking action to address this long term issue. In the meantime I will continue to press both Government and the Council on the issue to protect our beautiful town.