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Who Represents the Residents?
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Bleadon is the subject of a number of major development so who represents residents' views and protects our rural village community and countryside environment?

 

There are laws, information, bodies who state they represent local people and communities through their plans, created through democratic processes and consultation with the public. For example:

  • Localism Act 2011
    • "The Localism Act 2011 (c. 20) is an Act of Parliament that changes the powers of local government in England. The aim of the act is to facilitate the devolution of decision-making powers from central government control to individuals and communities." as indicated in Wikipedia.
  • Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG)
    • "The Department for Communities and Local Government's job is to create great places to live and work, and to give more power to local people to shape what happens in their area."
  • District Council - North Somerset
    • From NSC Corporate Plan (2015-19) "This plan is about making North Somerset an even better place by enabling people, businesses and communities to flourish. To do that we need to promote growth without compromising the things that we, and our millions of visitors, love about North Somerset: our beautiful countryside, stunning coast and distinctive towns and villages, each with their own unique character."
  • Parish Council - Bleadon Parish Council
    • From BPC Website (Jul 2017) "Also there are a number of duties that it is required to perform.Bleadon Council currently manage the Allotments and the Children's Playground - act as a consulting body in respect to all Planning Applications located within the village. " (BOB is still waiting for BPC to publish its response to queries relating to - What are BPC's specific duties, powers, roles, responsibilities including those of its employees?)
There are various policies (see here):
  • Government National Planning Policy Framework 2012
    • "It sets out the Government’s requirements for the planning system only to the extent that it is relevant, proportionate and necessary to do so. It provides a framework within which local people and their accountable councils can produce their own distinctive local and neighbourhood plans, which reflect the needs and priorities of their communities"
  • NSC Core Strategy (Jan 2017)
    • "The Core Strategy sets out the broad long-term vision, objectives and strategic planning policies for North Somerset up to 2026...Following an examination conducted by an independent Inspector, the North Somerset Core Strategy was found sound and was formally adopted in April 2012...The fully re-adopted Core Strategy incorporating the changes recommended to the remitted policies was approved on 10 January 2017." This includes CS33 "... Demand for housing in the countryside has historically been high, with the result that North Somerset villages and hamlets have become dormitory settlements. To avoid perpetuating unsustainable patterns of development and retain the character of our villages and openness of our countryside, development will be strictly controlled. Outside the Service Villages the number of villages with settlement boundaries is therefore limited to Infill Villages. Within these villages only sustainable development in the form of infilling within settlement boundaries will be permitted."
  • Bleadon Parish Plan 2009
    • Declared effectively 'Lost' by BPC in Apr 2017. Draft 2008  Parish Plan states: "This draft Parish Plan is about how the parish council, together with residents proposes to develop a safe, sustainable and attractive community." Associated "103 improvements for the next phase of the Bleadon Action Plan". Including: "Through the Planning process vigorously question all development outside the Village Settlement...Ensure that all new development remains within the Village Settlement Boundary"
    • Sept 2017 BPC submitted an application towards a Neighbourhood Plan.
 
There is Information to support keeping the Settlement Boundary firm and not to build on green field sites :
  • Liam Fox MP speaking at the Houses of Parliament re: Brownfield sites
  • DCLG response re: Brownfield sites
  • NSC/National Brownfield Sites Database to be created and published by Dec 2017 (as indicated by DCLG)
  • Bleadon's Parish Plan
  • Current NSC Core Strategy and the associate Sites & Allocations Policy (SAP)
  • NSC/BPC defined Settlement Boundary

 

Then there is the Planning Inspectorate:

  • Sponsored by DCLG & the Welsh Government
  • "The Planning Inspectorate’s job is to make decisions and provide recommendations and advice on a range of land use planning-related issues across England and Wales.....We implement government policy and consider the interests of developers(before?...) local citizens and other interested parties in recommending to Ministers which projects should be built....Supporting communities shape where they live: We implement the government’s aims of sustainable development and through shaping positive local planning. Through the local plan process, communities and developers can prepare accordingly for the future."

NSC has been told by the High Court to build 21K houses by 2026 because of the Planning Inspector:

  • Liam Fox MP in the House of Commons 15 Dec 2014 "North Somerset’s core strategy was put before the planning inspector for public examination at the end of 2011. The inspector determined that the plan was sound and it was adopted in April 2012. However, the plan was subsequently challenged in the courts by the university of Bristol, which wants to build on green-belt land in my constituency. That is, in my view, an appalling testament to how much it values its own coffers and how little it values the local environment. In the High Court, the judge ruled that the Government inspector had failed to provide proper reasons in his report to support his conclusion that North Somerset’s 14,000 housing target was appropriate. Let me be clear—this was a failure on the part of the inspector, not of North Somerset. Had the inspector given adequate reasoning, North Somerset would now be required only to provide 14,000 houses." 
The Planning Inspector stated in her July 17 conclusion "I therefore look to the Council to test the allocation of additional sites within the SAP which would have the capacity to accommodate up to 2,500 dwellings, and which have a realistic chance of being delivered by the end of the CS period in 2026"  i.e. looking for 2,500 new sites. 
  • How can the Planning Inspectorate appear to help developers choose these more profitable greenfield sites for businesses at the expense of localism i.e. by forcing a site allocation target and timetable that puts green fields and localism at risk to achieve?
  • How can NSC even consider including any greenfield application for its SAP before the Brownfield Database has been completed and published (by Dec 17) (related to existing and any new consultation regarding Core Strategy and associated Settlement Boundary)? 
  • How can NSC accept any current appliciation to build on any greenfield site outside Bleadon's  Settlement Boundary until the Brownfield Database has been completed  (by Dec 17) and the land identified been exhausted? 
  • How do the current Bleadon green field development applications fit with the above timescales and the current Core Strategy?
 
What is keeping housing development in check? 
  • North Somerset's Core Strategy is supposed to be able to keep development of all kinds in balance with local needs, and in essence, NSC has spent years consulting the public, residents and developers, to develop planning policy, presumably committing large amounts public money, but... 
  • It appears that if developers do not want to build on the sites allocated for development then they appeal to the High Court and the Planning Inspector, who seem to agree and ask NSC to find them more sites that are no doubt more lucrative greenfield rather than brownfield sites! 
  • What is the penalty if NSC just say 'NO'? What legal right does the Planning Inspector have to effectively appear to override localism to achieve these high housing targets in very short timescales, which originated from a Bristol University want to build on green-belt in North Somerset rather that on Bristol's brownfield sites? 
  • Absolute madness, an affront to local democracy, no wonder people do not bother to get involved. How do we ensure that local representatives listen to local people, or even their own adopted policies e.g. BPC, Parish Plan?
  • What can 'we'/the public do to ensure that our voices are heard and that NSC officers get the support they need to keep the democratically agreed policies in place? 

Bleadon Action Group

  • The Bleadon Action Group (BAG) was formed in 2017 and meets to discuss views and concerns around applications and issues affecting them. 

  • BOB's view of BAG in response to a resident's email 10 Nov 17.

 

RELATED BOB BLOG

 

 Table of Major Developments in and around Bleadon

 How much of your area is built on (BBC article)

 Migration Watch UK