The North Somerset Local Plan will guide housing, business investment, transport and infrastructure in the district until 2038.
Central Government has imposed a target on North Somerset of building an extra 15,500 houses in the period 2023-28 over and above the currently estimated commitments of 5,035 houses – so 20,535 houses in total.
This would mean building 1,369 houses every year for 15 years. For context, North Somerset has only achieved 1,369 completions once before in the last forty years (in 2007/8). We average 803 housing completions per year.
North Somerset also has major constraints on development – 40 per cent of land being Green Belt and substantial parts of the district being on the flood plain.
The Council has resolved to write to the Government and the local MPs to challenge the basis for forecast housing growth, particularly in the light of the COVID-19 crisis and the climate emergency, and to highlight the ongoing need for substantial investment in infrastructure and jobs to support development.
We need a Local Plan that will support a low-carbon, sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and to address the climate and nature emergency.
It is also unclear what impacts the COVID-19 crisis will have on the housing market and the implications this will have for North Somerset’s housing needs. This requires further consideration and also recognition by Government that the basis of current forecasts may need to change.
At the end of April 2020, North Somerset Council agreed an approach to consult in two stages:
- A more open and honest consultation with residents, businesses and stakeholders on meeting the challenges we face, with no pre-determined ideas about locations, quantity or types of development. The first stage, due to take place in the summer, will focus on the challenges facing North Somerset and will seek views on the issues the Local Plan will need to address.
- The responses received will help inform the second consultation phase which will focus on the choices around future development in North Somerset. It is anticipated this will take place in the autumn. We must not simply dust off failed previous plans and repackage them.
- Challenging government on the premise for significant further house building and the lack of critical investment in jobs and infrastructure.
Some tough choices ahead but a promising platform. We want you to be involved in developing the plan and help influence the future of the area.
I will share details on how you can get involved in the consultations soon.