Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

Document Section 1. North Somerset Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Document North Somerset Issues Q1. Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these? [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 21472417//3
Respondent Mead Realisations Ltd [View all comments by this respondent]
Agent Walsingham Planning (Harris)
Response Date 10 Dec 2018
Comment

The figure at page 8 identifies the constrained nature of North Somerset. This  highlights that development will need to be accommodated in less constrained areas wherever possible. However, the Council through its Sustainability Appraisal work will also need to consider whether locating development in the Green Belt will create a more sustainable form of development.

The key issues have not identified all the challenges or issues facing North Somerset.  Housing affordability is a significant issue for the area and should be a major factor in shaping policies of the new local plan. According to the Council’s Housing Strategy 2016-21

  • Over a quarter of private rented homes do not meet the decency threshold, with a high concentration of these homes in the Weston-super-Mare central area
  • The average price of a property in August 2015 was £197,528 or almost seven times average full time earnings
  • The district has the seventh largest inequalities gap - the gap between our  wealthiest and poorest communities – in the country. One stark example of this is life expectancy, which is nine years lower for men and six and a half years lower for women in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived area in the district.

2.3. The Strategy (page 17) acknowledges that the South West of England has the third highest house prices after London and the South East, and the WoE region has the third highest house prices in the South West after Dorset and Gloucestershire. It goes on to state that:

  • The deposit required by lenders to access a mortgage is now much greater making it more difficult for first time buyers to enter the housing market and fuelling the growth in Buy to Let.
  • households on low to middle incomes are as a result finding it harder to afford owner occupation.
  • Lower quartile house prices in the district are 7.68 times greater than lower quartile incomes, making affordability a real issue.
  • Households unable to access home ownership may remain living at home or live in the PRS, the so called ‘generation rent’.

2.4. The key issues affecting Weston Super Mare are also not fully expressed. The third key issue listed at page 9 refers to the employment-led approach to growth at Weston. However, it is not clear whether this approach has been successful in

reducing self-containment reducing out-commuting. As set out later in these representations it is considered that the new local plan should consider other opportunities for attracting investment to Weston.

2.5. The adopted Core Strategy 2017 already includes policies which prioritise the re-use of previously developed land although it is not clear whether these policies have not been effective. In isolation increasing densities is not considered to represent a realistic option for growth. There is no evidence to suggest that doing so would deliver the level of growth required over the plan period to meet needs. Other options will need to be considered alongside policies which seek to increase the density of development.

2.6. The fifth stated key issue at page 9 refers to the need to address congestion issues particularly related to the M5. As set out later in these representations relating to Section 8 of the Issues and Options congestion at Junction 21 is considered to be a significant issue affecting Weston Super Mare and should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

 

Summary
Key Issues have not addressed all the challenges facing North Somerset, specifically the lack of affordability of homes. Also need to state how successful the employment led approach has been.
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