B&NES urged to ‘go further’ in protecting Greenbelt sites in housing plan

Conservative councillors are urging Bath and North East Somerset Council to do more to protect local Greenbelt from new housing development in the latest draft of its Core Strategy development blueprint.

Conservatives have said that, due to a record high number of new homes being granted planning permission in the past year, the Council now has the scope go further in protecting the area’s Greenbelt from large-scale new development.

A total of 1,687 new homes were granted planning permission between March 2013 and March 2014 – nearly four times the 425 new homes given approval over the same period the previous year.  The number of new homes granted planning permission in the past year is one of the highest ever recorded in a single year in B&NES, and if the Bath Western Riverside site is taken into account then the number of homes given planning approval in the past year is even higher at 2,147 new dwellings.

In addition, a total of 1,095 new homes were actually completed between 2012 and 2014, the highest number for a two-year period in fifteen years.

As a result of the historically large number of new homes both granted planning permission and completed in the past year, Conservatives have said the Council should be able to significantly reduce the number of homes it plans to build on Greenbelt sites in the area.

Conservative councillors have also argued that that the Council could be more robust in ensuring that the maximum number of homes are included within housing developments at disused brownfield sites, as well as taking greater account of new student accommodation and being more proactive in converting disused space above shops and offices into flats.

Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tim Warren said:

“It’s clear that residents throughout Bath and North East Somerset view the defence of our area’s Greenbelt as an extremely important issue.  It’s therefore crucial that the Council does whatever it can to ensure local Greenbelt remains as protected as possible from large-scale new development.

“There has understandably been a lot of opposition from residents to the Council’s current proposals to allow building on the Greenbelt, particularly on the edges of Bath and Keynsham.  The Council needs to listen carefully to these concerns and take them on board when agreeing its final development plan.”

Conservative Shadow spokesman for Homes and Planning Cllr Liz Richardson added:

“As a result of the improving economy, hundreds more homes have been granted planning permission in the past year.  This additional development on so-called ‘windfall sites’ should give the Council greater scope to further protect our area’s Greenbelt and reduce the number of homes planned on non-brownfield sites.

“Residents rightly want to know that the Council is doing everything it can to minimise the need to build on the Greenbelt.  This is why we also believe the Council could be more robust in demanding maximum use is made of brownfield housing developments, take account of new student accommodation, and be more proactive in converting disused space above shops into homes.”

The call for greater protection of local Greenbelt comes as B&NES prepares to agree the latest version of its Core Strategy at its Full Council meeting on the 10th July.