West of England Backs Away from Joint Spatial Plan

It was supposed to be the model.

It doesn’t resolve the underlying problem of choice of strategic locations or lack of involvement of North Somerset in the combined authority/SDS.

Again if the government doesn’t make it easier for SDSs in terms of allocations/green belts (as per Greater Manchester) joint planning will fall by the wayside.

Somerset Gazette

South Gloucestershire Council has promised to start with a clean slate as it prepares to draw up a new blueprint for thousands of new homes in the district.

The local authority claims it has learned its lesson after a regional plan for 105,000 homes across the West of England was rejected by government officials last summer.

The failed joint spatial plan (JSP) was the brainchild of South Gloucestershire Council and neighbouring unitary authorities in Bristol, North Somerset, and Bath and North East Somerset.

After years of costly cross-border collaboration, the four councils formally withdrew the joint spatial plan on April 7, and will pursue their own local plans with varying degrees of joint working at a regional level.

Campaigners and opposition councillors sought assurances about South Gloucestershire’s new local plan as the council’s ruling Conservative administration adopted a programme for developing one on April 27.

Colin Gardner from TRAPP’D (Thornbury Residents Against Poorly Planned Development) wanted to know that planners would “start from a blank sheet” and undertake “genuine, meaningful consultation” to avoid repeating “past mistakes”.

Liberal Democrat councillors asked whether a “more appropriate and realistic” target for housing numbers would be calculated or if South Gloucestershire would “again take more than its fair share of additional growth”.

They also sought confirmation that the previously identified “strategic development locations” (SDLs) would be dropped and asked if “broad locations” would be identified at a regional level.

Cabinet member for planning Steve Reade said: “The new local plan will learn from the previous JSP process that the council has now withdrawn from.

Council leader Toby Savage clarified that the council was “having to start with different numbers” because there was a new national standard method for calculating housing targets.

“The question is then can every authority meet its own need within its own boundaries and that is the unanswered question as we move forward through this process,” Cllr Savage said.

“I don’t think the conversations will be any easier this time round than last time round.”

South Gloucestershire will prepare a local plan and collaborate on a sub-regional “spatial development strategy” (SDS) for South Gloucestershire, Bristol and B&NES, cabinet papers show.

The SDS will be “evidence led, and undertaken in an open-minded way, that doesn’t start with the answer”, according to cabinet papers.

In his written submission to the virtual cabinet meeting, Mr Gardner said TRAPP’D would be “watching like a hawk” for any sign to the contrary.

The newly adopted South Gloucestershire Local Plan Delivery Programme 2020-2023 states: “The four authorities and West of England Combined Authority (WECA) remain committed to working together on the best way forward on strategic planning policies for the sub-region to positively address its strategic planning needs including the Climate Emergency.

“It is also important to note this process would be different to the joint working under the JSP.

“Whereas previously the approach was a shared approach to address shared issues, now there are likely to be two separate processes – an SDS and a North Somerset local plan.”

The details for the SDS will be presented in a report to WECA Committee on June 19.

When adopted the SDS and new South Gloucestershire local plan will form the up-to-date development plan for South Gloucestershire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s