Brownfield development ‘must be priority’, say Conservatives

Greenbelt development can be prevented, but only if the Council does more to kick-start Brownfield regeneration, Conservative councillors in Bath and North East Somerset have said.

Conservatives have said that it should be possible for all new housing developments to be accommodated on Brownfield sites or land already earmarked for development for at least the next five years.

They have pointed to sites such as the vacant MoD land in Bath, the stalled Cadbury Somerdale project in Keynsham, the second phase of Bath’s Western Riverside development, and the long-awaited Radstock Regeneration project as examples of Brownfield sites which are ready for development.

The call for a greater focus on Brownfield development comes as Bath and North East Somerset Council works to produce a revised Core Strategy planning blueprint to put before a Government inspector in June.

According to Government guidelines, the Council must demonstrate that it has a supply of land which can be used for new housing within the next five years as well as plan more generally for the next fifteen years. The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework also includes a specific ‘brownfield first’ policy.

The lack of a five-year supply of housing land was one of the reasons the Council’s previous blueprint failed to comply with national Government policy, leaving the authority vulnerable to unwanted planning applications.

Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Homes and Planning, Cllr Geoff Ward, said:

“Conservatives believe that there is scope to accommodate our area’s housing needs on disused Brownfield sites and land already earmarked for development for at least the next five years, without needing to touch the Greenbelt. But this will require B&NES to produce a proper Brownfield strategy, to get development moving on these sites as soon as possible. Bristol has just been awarded £12 million from the Government’s Get Britain Building fund to kick-start Brownfield development, whilst money earmarked for Radstock and Bath Western Riverside remains unspent. We need B&NES to be accessing and using more of this type of funding in order to avoid greenfield development.

“The failure to include an identified supply of land which can be developed for new housing within the next five years was one of the reasons the Council’s original Core Strategy didn’t comply with Government policy, so it’s crucial that B&NES gets it right this time.”