Date set for crunch Core Strategy meeting

The date has been set for a crunch meeting at which Councillors will agree development proposals for the B&NES area over the next two decades.

A Council meeting to agree final consultation proposals for the B&NES Core Strategy is to take place on the 2nd of December. The Core Strategy document will set out proposals for economic regeneration and housing development in the area between now and 2026. Once agreed by the Council in December, the document will then be put out for further public consultation before the final blueprint is signed-off next year.

The Council had been working on plans based upon housing targets dictated by the previous Labour Government, which would have seen anywhere between 15,500 and 21,300 new houses built in B&NES by 2026. However, keeping a key Conservative commitment, the new Government has now scrapped these centrally-imposed targets, instead leaving the council free to decide upon its own locally-driven blueprint.

Conservative Councillors in B&NES campaigned against the previous targets, which would have seen swathes of Greenbelt land throughout the area bulldozed. Instead, local Conservatives have argued that the scale of new development must be based on locally-assessed need and focus on Brownfield regeneration. Conservative Councillors have said that the new Core Strategy proposals must also put to bed any threat to Greenbelt land in the area.

Councillor Charles Gerrish (Cons, Keynsham North), the B&NES Cabinet Member responsible for Strategic Planning, said:

“The council has been listening carefully to the views expressed by local residents during the consultation which took place late last year and earlier this year on the Core Strategy Options document. Views expressed will be used as supporting evidence for the council’s Core Strategy proposals.

“Now that the centrally-imposed targets have been scrapped by the new Government, the council has greater freedom to properly take account of these views and draw-up a Core Strategy which reflects the needs of our local area. Detailed proposals will be put to debate at the Full Council meeting in December.

“I’m pleased to say that this Council anticipated the revocation of the RSS and therefore began a reassessment of the approach to housing provision in the district to replace the top-down regional targets. As a result, B&NES is well prepared in its presentation of the ‘Localism’ agenda for the community.”

Cllr Peter Edwards (Cons, Publow&Whitchurch), whose ward was earmarked for up to 8,000 new houses under the previous Government’s plans, said:

“It’s been a great relief to local residents that the house-building targets dictated by the previous Labour Government have been scrapped. We must now make sure that the Core Strategy being drawn up by the Council puts to bed this threat to our precious Greenbelt land. Conservative Councillors believe that the B&NES Core Strategy should be based on realistic house-building targets that meet local needs and can actually be delivered. New house-building should be focussed on Brownfield redevelopment, should have infrastructure upfront, and with new jobs alongside housing.”