No Moor Development has released this statement following the Government’s decision on a North Somerset ‘housing requirement’.
Friday 25 September 2015
Government decision on housing numbers ‘a green light’ to developers
We share the Council’s “extreme disappointment” following the decision by the Secretary of State on the number of houses that must be built in North Somerset.
North Somerset Council seemed months ago to have conceded that the target for new builds would ‘stick’ at 20,985 – 50 per cent more than it had planned for originally.
However, this is only part of the story. The methodology used to deal with the identified housing shortfall will be critical. The Council were seeking to address any perceived housing ‘backlog’ over the whole of the remaining plan period – i.e. through to 2026. This timescale would allow for a more achievable annual house-building target.
The Minister’s letter is unhelpfully short on technical detail, but does say the target of 20,985 should be delivered “over the plan period”. We are seeking urgent clarification.
Should this be the case, it ought to give the Council latitude to counter any claim by developers that it cannot demonstrate a 5-year supply or is behind on delivering on the housing target. This will be tested soon, with the Barratt Homes appeal hearing due to begin on 6 October.
Yatton and Claverham
We want our communities to thrive, but this decision threatens to remove any scope we have to exercise genuine influence over what our village should look like in the future. Some new housing is desirable, but the scale needs to be proportionate, and in locations where it does not impact negatively on the character of the village, and in step with the delivery of essential infrastructure.
We have evidence that developers are still pressuring local landowners to release yet more agricultural land for development. For their own narrow commercial interests, developers want to hand-pick easier-to-develop green field sites, when there are suitable sites for brownfield development in Yatton and elsewhere in the area.
North Somerset Council now has the unenviable task of deciding on where an extra 7,000 houses should be built, including the allocation for Yatton and neighbouring villages.
While the Council has promised to do all it can to mitigate the impact of ‘speculative’ plans, we expect developers will now press for a quick resolution to the bucket-load of pending applications to build hundreds of houses in Yatton and Claverham. The extra pressures on roads, schools and community facilities would be intolerable.
We want to acknowledge the lobbying that local MPs have done to argue the case for our communities, but after six months of unnecessary uncertainty in our local community, their arguments have ultimately been dismissed with the Minister’s curt response this week.
We will continue to scrutinise the developers and hold our elected representatives to account over the future decisions they make.
Our campaign to protect our green fields begins in earnest today.