Help shape our housing & transport future.

People in the West of England are being urged to take the opportunity to shape the area’s housing and transport provision for the next 20 years by participating in a major consultation that starts next week [Monday, 9 November].

Leaders of the area’s four local authorities today encouraged residents to give their views on emerging options for the provision of new homes and associated infrastructure.

New homes at Bath's Western Riverside.

New homes at Bath’s Western Riverside.

The West of England needs to plan for more homes if it is to meet the area’s growing need for housing and continue to be economically successful. It has been calculated that the area will need 85,000 new homes by 2036. With 56,000 currently planned or approved, options as to where a further 29,000 homes could be built are being explored.

This plan is about delivering the homes needed for future generations: affordable, well-designed, well-located and well-connected.

The options are part of councils’ emerging Joint Spatial Plan and Transport Study which form the basis of their consultation to shape the development of housing, employment space, transport and infrastructure provision until 2036.

They have been set out on a series of indicative maps for people to examine during the three-month consultation. Although all options are up for discussion and debate, partners agree that the focus for new housing should be on previously developed land to minimise the need for developing green space.
Leaders from each of the four local authorities welcomed the launch of the public consultation.

Cllr Tim Warren Leader of B&NES.

Cllr Tim Warren
Leader of B&NES.

Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “We want to ensure that as many people as possible give us their views to ensure our plans reflect what is deliverable, address local issues and reflect local opinion. We need to focus on using brownfield sites – alongside delivering affordable housing, jobs, and supporting infrastructure for our growing communities.”

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “My ultimate goal is to make Bristol one of the world’s most liveable cities. It is, therefore, encouraging that we are working as a city region, planning across local authority boundaries to deliver the affordable housing, land for business growth and the necessary transport and community infrastructure we need to create sustainable communities.

“We need to do this whilst protecting our natural environment both within the city and in the surrounding areas. This consultation is a great opportunity for people from across the West of England to find out more about the possible options and let us know what they think, and I look forward to hearing people’s views.”

Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council, said: “The role of the Green Belt in maintaining the separation of settlements and in defining the character of local communities is highly valued by our residents. The council’s strong preference is to continue to protect the Green Belt as an effective long-term approach to managing development while supporting the need for accelerated housing delivery in sustainable locations.

“I urge residents to get involved and help shape the future of the area by making their views known during the consultation process.”

Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said: “We want to build a better future for our children, to ensure they have the same or better access to homes and jobs we have now. At the same time, we want to protect our environment and prioritise development close to supporting infrastructure.

“Together, we can do both. We should not shy away from this, but take the initiative and tackle these issues now, so that people in every part of the region and future generations can enjoy a sustainable future. The plan sets out an ambitious 20-year vision for getting housing built at a pace that meets local need and is affordable, whilst maintaining and building places that communities are proud to call their home.”

In line with national policy, brownfield development is to be prioritised over encroachment into the Green Belt wherever possible, preserving and promoting the quality of environment that the West of England enjoys.

The West of England Joint Plan consultation will open to the public on Monday 9 November and people have until January next year to tell the councils what they think of the proposals set out by housing and transport officers for discussion.

People can get involved by:
· Checking out the detail on the website http://www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk which contains information about the options, and the various ways that people can leave their views.
· Emailing comments or enquiries to comment@jointplanningwofe.org.uk
· Sending written comments to West of England Joint Planning Consultation
c/o South Gloucestershire Council, PO Box 299, Corporate Research and Consultation Team, Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood, Bristol, BS15 0DR
· Attending one of a series of local events which will take place across the West of England over the coming weeks. Details are available from the website http://www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk
· Following a dedicated Twitter feed @WEJointPlanning which will provide updates on the consultation process and give your views using the #WEbuildourfuture hashtag.

The draft Joint Spatial Plan will be published in autumn 2016, and finally submitted to government in 2017. It could be formally adopted in early 2018.

For your information:
The West of England’s local authorities are committed to providing the homes and transport that the area needs. They are looking to plan for the future to help the area meet its housing and transport needs over the next 20 years and are starting the process by sharing information about various options about where housing and infrastructure could be provided.

The end result will be a locally-created plan that will be used by local authorities to guide housing, employment space and transport provision in their areas until 2036.

It is estimated 85,000 new homes are needed in the West of England area over the next 20 years. Of this, 56,000 homes are already “planned and predicted” – i.e. they are in projects with existing site allocations, sites with planning permissions, sites that are known to be ready for allocation or small sites likely to get planning permission.

Partners’ collective ambition is to drive sustainable economic growth and maintain a quality of life for people who live and work here. Providing the homes and infrastructure at the right level is an essential part of delivering this.

The area under consideration is the Wider Bristol Housing Market Area, and while Bath has its own Housing Market Area, it recognises the mutual benefits of working with its neighbours to deliver a plan across boundaries that will allow each authority to maintain the characteristics that make each special.
More information about the plan can be found at: www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk