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Potentially Up to 500 houses in Bleadon Area

Posted on 9th December, 2020

 

There are a number of significant factors affecting development in Bleadon, not just individual planning applications, including:

  • North Somerset's Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring authorities. The map above shows, "... the strategic area defined for the purposes of the duty to co-operate... In particular, joint working should help to determine where additional infrastructure is necessary, and whether development needs that cannot be met wholly within a particular plan area could be met elsewhere. .."
  • Ongoing BPC Neighbourhood Development Plans, 5 undeclared sites in Bleadon as identified by BPC NDP Working Group
  • Current North Somerset Council Local Plan 2038 Consultation, two of the four questions indicate up to 500 houses in the Bleadon area, Q3 & Q6, whereas Q4 and Q5 do not appear to do so.
  • Current West of England Combined Authority (WECA) Survey planning to build 88,000-125,000 in the region
  • Government Aug Consultation, planning to build 300,000 new homes annually and one million homes over this Parliament
  • Current Active Travel Plan Consultation (related to where houses and businesses are built)
  • Current development applications influencing Bleadon

As far as BOB is aware Bleadon Parish Council (BPC) is a Statutory Consultee on issues such as those indicated above. How has BPC communicated these far-reaching consultations to residents? What has been our elected and co-opted representatives' official responses to these important consultations?

  • Residents pay BPC for a newsletter, funded via Bleadon taxes/precept and supported by advertising, with some residents in the parish receiving a copy last week.
  • Why are these consultations not in the magazine so that residents affected can interact and influence
  • What are the unpublished 'Terms of Reference' for the new paid Editor position (annual 'salary' undeclared but in the order of £400 per edition)?
  • BPC started its NDP project in June 2017. It has not convened a parish wide NDP meeting for Bleadon, and has yet to answer queries raised?
  • BPC has not published any NDP Working Group minutes since before the last planning appeal in Oct last year (See Mins table)?
  • WECA and NSC Local Plan deadlines are next Monday 14 Dec, Active Travel deadline is 17 Dec, BOB can't find any specific Agenda item or documented minute, they are not an agenda item on next Monday's 16 December Agenda, only Local Plan noted in the Correspondence Listing carried forward from last month?
  • Govt White Paper- BPC, "Resolved not to take any action on the basis that what was being asked for was too complicated and had very little bearing on the Parish Council." Sept 20 (Min 335.7.8
  • NB "... under the proposals the principle of development may be agreed at the local plan development stage" (see below)

Will Bleadon remain a rural community? How will it accommodate local housing need and growth? What is Bleadon Parish Council's plan for the future of our community?

 

If you want your voice heard, respond to the NSC and WECA consultations and surveys as soon as possible, as consultation deadlines are next week. (see additional info and links below)

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OVERVIEW SUMMARIES

 

How does all this fit together, see BOB's unqualified understanding and diagram of the situation here

 

 

Neighbourhood Development Plans

 

Bleadon Parish Council's, BPC NDP started in June/July 2017

  • Ongoing BPC Neighbourhood Development Plans, 5 undeclared sites in Bleadon as identified by BPC NDP Working Group (last updated draft minutes Aug 2019)
  • Although figures aren't transparent or easily referenced, BPC has spent in the order of £8,500 to date on its NDP
  • Residents are still waiting for a parish meeting to be called to discuss Bleadon Parish Council's NDP
  • A meeting was minuted to be arranged October last year (Min 327.9.iii) "The Clerk to liaise with [NDP paid Planning Consultant] and the Hall Booking Clerk to find a suitable date at the end of November and publicise this date in the noticeboards the council's website and Neighbourhood Plan website, as well as in the Bleadon Village News".
  • However, this was stated as cancelled in the Council's Newsletter without Full Council discussion or explanation? See NDP blog for more info.
  • Last minuted update was Feb 20 (Min 331.6)

"The Neighbourhood Planning Hive Report: Experiences of Participants report states,

  • "The HIVE event involved a selected group of 35 active neighbourhood planners working on a series of key areas of concern in Neighbourhood Planning. The work was overseen and facilitated by Prof Gavin Parker with Kat Salter and Mark Dobson plus three student volunteers."

NALC 'Where Next for Neighbourhood Plans?', states:

  • "The output was described as a “damning report on neighbourhood planning that calls for an overhaul of the system” by Mitchell Labiak,and ...
  • Participants "... complained about too much change and lack of consistency in the planning process, widely varying modus operandi by neighbourhood planning groups, inconsistent support from principal authorities, lack of clarity concerning conflicts of interest between Parish Council and nonelected NPG members and the divisive effect on many communities of identifying sites for housing
  • "... there is the requirement that a [NSC] must be able to demonstrate a five year supply of housing land (or, since December 2016, a three-year supply if there is an adopted neighbourhood plan which identifies specific sites for development). If it cannot, policies for the supply of housing in the development plan (including any neighbourhood plans) are considered out of date ... Making the legitimacy of neighbourhood plans contingent on the performance of housebuilders across a wider area seems to be somewhat at odds with the principles of localism.
  • "... research has shown most neighbourhood plans taking two to three years to produce, with five not being unusual, as against the 12-18 months originally envisaged. This means a plan can be in preparation, with a huge amount of community time, effort and resource poured into it, before it is given any weight in decision-taking. Meanwhile, speculative development can come forward in order to ‘beat the clock
  • "... neighbourhood plans are at risk of being considered out of date (and therefore triggering the ‘presumption in favour’) when strategic local plans are reviewed [e.g. NSC Local Plan 2038 consultation below], or if local plans that they rely on are considered to be out of date [e.g. during previous planning appeals].
  • "... the cases we have researched have shown evidence of considerable inconsistency ...
  • "... there are a range of measures in the revised NPPF published in July 2018 that will cause the situation to deteriorate further by introducing more specific stipulations on neighbourhood plan groups and yet more circumstances in which neighbourhood plans can be afforded less weight or overturned."
  • "It is unclear as to where NPs will stand in relation to spatial planning frameworks emerging from the Combined Authorities [e.g. WECA below] "

 

Parish Plans

 

BPC has an adopted Parish Plan, built upon the views of residents, i.e. 60% of the people in the parish responded.

 

Local Government Association

  • "Are existing parish plans and village design statements still valid? Yes. Parish Plans, Community Plans or Market Town Action Plans remain one of the tools communities can use to use to deliver on their ambitions." (LGA)

NPPF:

  • "Neighbourhood planning is not a legal requirement but a right which communities in England can choose to use.
  • "Communities may decide that they could achieve the outcomes they want to see through other planning routes, such as incorporating their proposals for the neighbourhood into the local plan, or through other planning mechanisms such as Local Development Orders and supplementary planning documents or through pre-application consultation on development proposals.
  • "Communities and local planning authorities should discuss the different choices communities have to achieving their ambitions for their neighbourhood." (NPPF)

North Somerset Council

  • Parish Plans were previously considered/referred to by NSC as a Supplementary Planning Document

 

North Somerset Local Plan - Current Consultation 02 SEPT - 14 DEC 2020

 

Current North Somerset Council Local Plan 2038 Consultation, two of the fourquestions indicate up to 500 housesin the Bleadon area

 

NSC has a Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring authorities, i.e. help neighbouring Local Authorities fulfil their housing, employment and infrastructure needs (See previous MP responses below)

  • "24. Local planning authorities and county councils (in two-tier areas) are under a duty to cooperate with each other, and with other prescribed bodies, on strategic matters that cross administrative boundaries."
  • "26. ... In particular, joint working should help to determine where additional infrastructure is necessary, and whether development needs that cannot be met wholly within a particular plan area could be met elsewhere. "
  • "Strategic geography 12. The geography of the wider region within which North Somerset sits is shown on the ... map [see above] This shows WECA authorities to the north and Somerset authorities to the south. This is the strategic area defined for the purposes of the duty to co-operate. "
  • How is the provision of additional requirements, such as doctors, dentists, opticians, etc., identified and supplied?
  • How will the Duty to Cooperate continue to affect Government Lockdown policy: "... we have been placed in Tier 3 because we are regarded as "a natural travel to work area" along with Bristol and South Gloucestershire" (Penrose MP & Fox MP)
  • The current NSC Local Plan consultation proposes 4 mapped questions, Q3 & Q6 indicate up to 500 houses in the Bleadon area, Q4 and Q5 do not appear to do so.
  • NSC propose a 'build out' not 'build up' approach (favoured by Penrose MP), that may impact rural villages
  • What are NSC's settlement hierarchy options?
  • Settlement Boundary Review?
  • Is there an ability to create a Strategic Gap between Bleadon and WSM?
  • The Local Plan will be prepared with community and stakeholder engagement in accordance with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement (2019) [including Statutory Consultees i.e. Bleadon Parish Council]. " NSC pre-Local Plan Consultation

 Why hasn't BPC publicly discussed this important consultation as it's been noted several times in their Agenda and Minutes? 

  • Sept 20 (Min 335.10) "Correspondence (1) NS Consultations – Local Plan" and 
  • Oct 20 (Min 336.10) "Correspondence ... (2) NS Consultations " and 
  • Nov 20 337.10 "Correspondence... (13) NS Local Plan – “Choices for the Future” and 
  • Dec 20 (Min 33.6.(2)) carried forward from last month?

 

 

North Somerset Active Travel Strategy - Current Consultation 05 NOV 20 - 17 DEC 2020 

  • "Through delivering high quality walking and cycling networks and increasing publicity and awareness of these, the strategy aims to increase walking and cycling trips by 300 per cent by 2030 ...
  • ... "Safety and perceptions of safety are addressed through improved infrastructure and supressed demand for active travel is released through reallocated road space to improved walking and cycling facilities. " (PDF)
  • Oct 20 Min 36.10 "Correspondence ... (2) NS Consultations "?

 

WECA Current Spatial Development Strategy Survey 02 SEPT- 14 DEC 2020

  • Current West of England Combined Authority (WECA) Survey planning to build 88,000-125,000 in the region
  • "Over the next 20 years the area covered by the Spatial Development Strategy [SDS] could need around 88,500 or as many as 125,000 homes (depending on the Government's method of calculating housing need, linked to the national housing target) ...
  • "The SDS will cover Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire and will be developed by those councils and the West of England Combined Authority. North Somerset will develop their Local Plan in cooperation with the WECA authorities but will not be included in the SDS ..." (PDF)
  • This survey covers planned development for homes, employment, infrastructure capacity - travel options (e.g. roads, rail, utilities)
  • Doesn't cover Bristol Airport as in North Somerset Authority Area
  • The previous JSP comments will not be carried forward and so will need to be resubmitted if required
  • It has been stated that NSC's New Local Plan 2038 (see above) should be in alignment with this regional SDS plan as NSC has a Duty to Cooperate:

 

 

Government White Paper Consultation - 05 AUG 20 - 29 OCT 2020 (PDF)

 

Government Aug Consultation, planning to build 300,000 new homes annually and one million homes over this Parliament

 

Locality, a funder of BPC's NDP, response to the Government White Paper, stated:

  • "Implications on public participation in decision making: Under the current planning system the public largely have two core opportunities to shape planning:
  • 1. at the local/neighbourhood plan development stage, and
  • 2. at the planning application stage when applications for development on specific sites are put forward.
  • Under the proposed reforms the second opportunity will largely be removed, with public participation taking place mainly at the plan development stage. This is because under the proposals the principle of development may be agreed at the local plan development stage." (Blog)
  • Sept 20 (Min 335.7.8) BPC, "Resolved not to take any action on the basis that what was being asked for was too complicated and had very little bearing on the Parish Council." 

 

Liam Fox MP and John Penrose MP previous responses:

On 2 Nov 16 The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) posted "More than a million homes possible on suitable brownfield land"

 

On 15 Dec 14 local MP Liam Fox spoke out in parliament (skip to 21:58 mins) on behalf of North Somerset and the high extra housing development imposed by central government coming from the Bristol University court challenge wanting to build on Green Belt land. NSC was subsequently asked to increase indentified sites from 14,000 to 21,000 houses. Liam Fox MP said, ".. it must be made clear that greenfield development should come only as a last resort after all brownfield sites are exhausted (See letter from DCLG relating to the Dec 2017 Brownfield Register). Finally, the infrastructure that is needed to support new development, including schools, GP surgeries and, where appropriate, roads must be provided by the developers; the cost must not fall disproportionately on local council tax payers. (See related Blog on Weston General Hospital A&E night-time closures starting 4 Jul 17). In North Somerset we are facing an expensive fiasco that is undemocratic and producing unsustainable outcomes. We have been very patient, and our very competent council has been extremely co-operative. Now we need answers.

 

Liam Fox MP also said, "We seem to be in a ridiculous position. The plan [NS Core Strategy] was put forward in 2011, agreed by the inspector and adopted in 2012, yet here we are at the end of 2014. If I am not mistaken, at the end of 2015we will begin the planning period in which we will look at housing allocation through to 2036. It would be the height of absurdity if we were one of only four councils in the sub-region to be asked not only to look at our 2026 housing allocation, but to start the process all over again at the end of next year and look at the 2036 allocation. Surely this is a complete waste of public resources, as well as being utterly contrary to what my hon. Friend the Minister says is the Government’s aim, which is to encourage greater localism." (current allocation of 20,985 is only up until 2026 so NSC will be looking for more sites). The Minister of State, DCLG representative Brandon Lewis replied "My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that we want to encourage localism. That is why we want the decisions to be made locally ... I am happy to discuss this issue with my right hon. and hon. Friends in greater detail at an appropriate point and to write to them to outline the detail behind their queries" (Link to Hansard Transcript and further information.)

  

On 23 Jan 17 we asked North Somerset's local MP John Penrose MP his views, in which he referred to working with others to protect its villages and countryside; and the importance of "democratically-agreed Local Plan". Note: In 2009 BPC publicly declared that it had submitted Bleadon's adopted Parish Plan to NSC for inclusion/reference in any NSC plans or policies; and to ensure that Bleadon residents' views were known and acted upon (it appears NSC did not receive the plan in 2009 and it is now 'lost'?). Following BOB's query regarding the status of the NLUD ("a countrywide source of information on brownfield land") John Penrose passed on a response to us from DCLG, stating "With effect from 16 Apr 17, each local authority is required by law to create an easy-to-access Brownfield Register and publish it on its website by 31 Dec (17). However, only sites suitable for new homes are to be included." Also, "With effect from 15 Apr (17) the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 enables local authorities to grant Permission in principle to housing-led development on suitable land entered on a brownfield Register".

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