Masterplan for 105,000 homes, jobs and transport is attacked from all sides
THE choice of 12 sites to build many of the 105,000 homes planned for the region over the next 17 years have been attacked from all sides.
The West of England Joint Spatial Plan or JSP has been put together by Bristol, South Gloucestershire, B&NES and North Somerset councils to be a blueprint for the development of the region until 2036. It is currently being examined at a series of public hearings in Bath.
It includes 12 strategic development locations or SDLs, which will each have hundreds of new homes built on them.
They include Buckover, near Thornbury, Charfield, Coalpit Heath, Thornbury itself and Yate.
Builders Bloor Homes and Barratt Homes are calling for the housing target to be raised to 140,000, while campaigners from Thornbury Residents Against Poorly Planned Development say that the impact of the current target could be “catastrophic”.
Persimmon Homes barrister Thea Osmund-Smith said the four councils had failed to consider reasonable alternatives to the 12 SDLs and the plan’s sustainability assessment had “fundamental flaws” that could not be remedied.
But barrister Suzanne Ornsby, for the four councils, said the plan was maximising urban living and more than half of the planned homes were in areas that no-one was trying to change.
She said: “Everyone around the table is complaining that the assessment of SDLs is wrong because their sites aren’t in.”
Yate town councillor Chris Willmore said employment sites were being planned inside the green belt but the houses would be outside it, resulting in “trans-green belt commuting on a massive scale”.
She said developers and communities were united in saying sustainability appraisals were “fundamentally flawed”.
Bus company Stagecoach, said congestion from the developments would make it “practically impossible” to run a reliable bus service on certain key routes, and unless the MetroBus network is extended, the growing communities in Thornbury and Yate would not be served effectively by public transport.
Nick Small, from Stagecoach, said: “The impact on passengers in the West of England will be severe.”
Matt Griffith from Business West, the chamber of commerce for the region, disputed a claim on the first day of the examination that the local enterprise partnership had backed the JSP target to provide 82,500 jobs. He told the hearing it had set its own target of 95,000 jobs by 2030.
John Baker, also from Business West, said the JSP did not go far enough in addressing climate change, and questioned if the carbon impact of the different options had been assessed.
Planning inspectors Malcolm Rivett and Steven Lee, above, have to decide whether the JSP should be adopted. Hearings will take place between now and October and a decision is not expected before the end of the year.
By Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporting Service