Council registers “strong objections” to Inspector’s housing supply recommendations

Posted on Monday 19th November 2012 at 2:12 pm by SH (Editor)

South Gloucestershire Core Strategy.

Proposals to further increase the number of homes to be built in South Gloucestershire between 2012 and 2017 are unjustified and could jeopardise the district’s hard-fought goal of balanced and sustainable development, South Gloucestershire Council has warned.

The changes to the district’s long-term planning blueprint, or Core Strategy, were requested by the Government-appointed Inspector responsible for the Strategy’s public examination this summer.

Although the Inspector supported the Strategy’s proposals to identify sites for a total of 28,355 new dwellings in the years 2006 to 2027, he requested that more of this land is released earlier in the strategy period.

In particular, he has asked that sites for 9,345 homes are provided in the five years between 2012 and 2017, rather than the 8,493 proposed by the council at this summer’s public examination. The Inspector suggests that the shortfall may be met by identifying new development sites, or by ‘bringing forward’ development on sites identified in later stages of the strategy.

In its response to the proposals, published today on the council’s website, the council says that the increase in development between 2012-17 is unjustified and unrealistic given current economic conditions and suggests that the levels of development already identified within the Core Strategy are more than sufficient to meet identified needs.

It adds that the Inspector’s proposals could jeopardise the “plan led” approach to development favoured by the council and local communities, by encouraging speculative applications from developers.

The council has suggested that some of the shortfall during the five years to 2017 – some 594 homes – might be met by accelerating work at sites that have already been identified within the Strategy.

But it says that if the Inspector is determined to meet the entire shortfall, by allocating an entirely new development site, this must be done through the public examination process so that local people are able to have their say.

It adds that if this option were chosen by the Inspector, the council’s “very reluctant” position would be that the most suitable location for additional strategic housing allocation would be for 250 homes at Morton Way, Thornbury, but notes that this is a matter it feels it has been forced to address for reasons largely beyond its control.

Director of the council’s Environment and Community Services department Steve Evans said:

“The formal response to the consultation on the proposed modifications makes clear that the council is generally happy with the outcomes of this summer’s public examination and pleased that the Inspector has supported its position on so many of the issues of importance to local communities and the local economy.”

“However the response also highlights the council’s disappointment that the Inspector appears unable to support its position on land supply during the first five years of the strategy.”

“The council has proposed a number of options to address the shortfall associated with the Inspector’s proposed modifications. Should the Inspector insist on allocating a new site or sites for development, the council is clear that the Inspector should reopen the public examination so that local people can have their say in this important decision.”

Consultation on the Inspector’s proposed modifications to the Core Strategy closed on 16th November and all comments received will now be passed to the Inspector for consideration. They will also be published, alongside the council’s response, on the council website in early December.

The Inspector is expected to inform the council before Christmas how he intends to proceed and whether he feels it will be necessary to re-open the public examination. Members of the public will be notified of these outcomes as soon as they are confirmed by the Inspector.

Further information on the Inspector’s draft modifications, including the council’s response, can be found at www.southglos.gov.uk/corestrategy

Source: South Gloucestershire Council

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