File on 4 investigates…

Last night, BBC Radio aired a File on 4 investigation into housing need, planning and protecting the Green Belt.

The investigation begins in Long Ashton.


Play audio

  • File on 4 commissioned research, which reveals “the numbers of homes given planning approval on Greenbelt land in England has more than doubled in just a year – despite government pledges to protect it.”
  • “We want ‘a green corridor’ between Bristol and Long Ashton… that is vital to us and we will ‘fight to the death’ for that.” – Charles Cave, Long Ashton Parish Cllr (02:36)
    NB The programme quotes Mr Cave as a member of the Parish Council – which he is – but he is also Chair of North Somerset Council for 2015-16
  • Patrick Finch, Director of Estates at the University of Bristol – “looking to maximise the value of a site [they] no longer need.” (03:56)
  • The [Local] Authority ought to be trusted to set its own [housing] targets – Elfan ap Rees, Deputy Leader, North Somerset Council (05:34)
  • “The Green Belt is sacrosanct.” – Elfan ap Rees (07:10)
    NB Elfan ap Rees voted to give outline planning consent for Bloor 1 (although Yatton lies outside of the Green Belt)
  • “We’ve moved away from [a] top-down approach to planning. We’re very much driving to Local Plans delivered by the local authority… and even better than that, Neighbourhood Plans developed by local communities.” – Brandon Lewis, Planning Minister (07:20)
  • “Green Belt is one of the environmental constraints… it’s clear in the NPPF that people can look at and put forward as evidence.” – Brandon Lewis (08:46)
  • There is broad agreement about the need for much more housing. The consensus is around 250,000 new homes per year. But where to put them? (10:39)
  • “Localism – great; neighbourhood planning – fantastic; but you can’t just abandon communities to work just on their own.” – Dr Hugh Ellis, Head of Policy, Town & Country Planning Association (36:11)
  • “The NPPF contains no coherent definition of what ‘sustainable development’ is meant to mean – Dr Hugh Ellis (36:16)
  • There was only a passing comment (by the Minister) about Neighbourhood Plans. That’s a shame, as there would’ve been a nice symmetry to the programme if it had returned to Long Ashton, which is more advanced than any other community in North Somerset with its Neighbourhood Plan – closely followed by Backwell.

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