The North Somerset Local Plan will guide housing, business investment, transport and infrastructure in the district until 2038.
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.
Given the inevitable tough choices ahead, North Somerset Council wanted 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 council will not simply dust off failed previous plans and repackage them, but wants residents to be genuinely involved in developing the plan and help influence the future of our district.
In April 2020, North Somerset Council agreed an approach to consult on the Local Plan in two stages. The first “Challenges” stage (22nd July – 2nd September 2020) communicated the issues faced by the district and sought views on them from the public. The responses received helped inform the second consultation phase (2nd November to 14th December 2020) which focused on the “Choices” for potential spatial strategies for future development.
Latest position: The council’s ‘Preferred Options Local Plan’ is a full draft Plan and is out for public consultation until 29th April 2022
The council is now preparing a draft version of the Local Plan will be a full plan with detailed polices on the approach to various forms of development. It will replace the current Core Strategy, Development Management Plan and Site Allocations Plan. It will set out the council’s overall spatial strategy – where the council thinks growth should be encouraged within North Somerset. It will allocate sites to meet this growth as well as the infrastructure, jobs and services North Somerset will need.
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 that number of completions once before in the last forty years (in 2007/8). We average just over 800 housing completions per year.
We also have major constraints on development in North Somerset – 40 per cent of land being Green Belt and substantial parts of the district being on the flood plain.
The Council has written 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.
It is also unclear what impacts the pandemic 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.