Residents in the West of England will soon have a say on future housing, jobs and transport infrastructure
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People across the West of England are to be given the chance to shape the future of housing and transport provision as part of a major conversation over the coming months.
The four West of England (WoE) authorities, Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council will work together on a new Joint Spatial Plan, which will set out their commitment to a forward-thinking approach that would guide future housing, transport and infrastructure development up to 2036.
The draft plan is in the early stages of development and councillors from the four authorities will be discussing a report on issues and options for the plan at the WoE Joint Planning, Housing and Communities Board (PHCB), on 2 October.
The report explains that if the WoE is to remain economically successful it will be necessary to continue to grow the number of new homes that are built and to match that growth with the infrastructure to support it. The key social, economic and environmental challenge facing the West of England is how to build and deliver the new homes, jobs and infrastructure to ensure the region remains a vibrant and attractive place, while protecting the environment and quality of life here.
The ambition behind the plan is that through continued cooperation and collaboration, the authorities can help to drive long-term sustainable economic growth and strategic investment across the West of England for the benefit of all.
To deliver this there needs to be an effective land and housing supply that keeps up with anticipated demand and provides enough homes that people can afford.
The plan’s overall purpose is to identify:
• the housing and employment land requirements for the West of England area
• the most appropriate locations for housing and employment growth
• what transport improvements and other infrastructure investment are needed.
As a statutory Local Plan for the period 2016 to 2036 the Joint Spatial Plan will, in due course, be used to inform key planning decisions that each of the four councils make as individual authorities.
This will help to ensure the distribution, location and mix of housing land for employment growth and transport infrastructure make sense across the region as a whole.
No decisions have been made. The issues and options report being considered next week proposes an approach of maximising the use of brownfield and underdeveloped sites before building on greenfield sites when identifying locations for potential development.
All four authorities are committed to placing substantial weight on the importance of the green belt and its value in protecting our countryside.
Additionally, to meet current and anticipated demand, a significant proportion of any new development should be affordable housing.
The draft options paper is published today in preparation for discussions at the 2 October PHCB meeting and includes a number of indicative proposals only. These are areas that could have the potential for development, subject to further assessment. Based on the projected needs for the region between now and 2036, not all of these areas would need to be developed, and others may be considered, subject to assessment and consultation.
The PHCB will discuss plans for a 12 week public engagement process, starting in November, designed to enable the public to have their say in the choices that will need to be made. People will be asked their views at a series of consultation events, online and in writing. Further detail on how people can get involved will be made available in the coming weeks.
Importantly, the process will not only seek to hear from existing homeowners, renters, businesses and other groups, but also young people across the region who are the next generation of residents, and entrepreneurs. The engagement hopes to reach out to younger people, including students, who will hope to be able to live and work in the region 20 years from now.
The consultation that begins in November will be the first stage of the process to help shape the Joint Spatial Plan. The engagement will be about hearing the views of local people and organisations on the guiding principles for the area as well as on ideas for future development.
The questions that people will be able to contribute may include:
• How should the West of England area change over the next 20 years?
• How should growth be planned, enabled and managed?
• Where should new homes, jobs and transport improvements be located?
• Where is it most important to minimise the impact of change?
The timeline for developing the Joint Spatial Plan is:
• November to January 2016 – public engagement on the issues and options.
• Summer 2016 – the draft Joint Spatial Plan will be published, and six weeks of public consultation will begin.
• Early 2017 – the final plan will be agreed for submission to the Secretary of State and another formal public period of consultation will take place.
• Summer 2017 – the Joint Spatial Plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State with comments.
• Autumn 2017 – examination by the Planning Inspector, which is the final sign-off that the plan meets its statutory requirements.
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