Inspector backs council over green belt site allocations

A planning inspector has backed a council's proposal to allocate a series of green belt sites for new homes as it seeks to increase housing supply following the suspension of an examination into a previous draft of its key planning document.

Bath: council eyes green belt sites to meet housing need
Bath: council eyes green belt sites to meet housing need

The examination of the Bath & North East Somerset Council’s (BANES) core strategy was suspended in 2012 after a raft of criticisms over the soundness of the document.

In preliminary findings on the strategy in 2012, the planning inspector said the council’s methodology for assessing housing requirements was unsuitable and did not comply with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

In the council’s revised core strategy the authority sought to increase housing allocations, and earmarked green belt sites in Bath and North East Somerset for new homes.

The planning inspectors report, released on Tuesday, concluded that the revised BANES core strategy provided an "appropriate basis" for the planning of the district, providing modifications are made.

The revised strategy said four strategic sites should be removed from the green belt at Odd Down at Bath, East Keynsham, South West Keynsham and Whitchurch.

The planning inspector’s report said that in each case there were exceptional circumstances to justify removing land from the green belt, and that the council’s decisions to allocate the sites represented "positive planning".

Other recommendations include an increase in the overall housing requirement from 2011 to around 13,000 dwellings, and setting different targets for the provision of affordable housing in different parts of the district.

Paul Crossley, leader of the council, said the adoption of the core strategy would have a number of benefits for the council and wider community.

"It gives a clear policy for residents and developers on the location and size of new developments which means we are better placed to resist harmful planning applications.

"It also helps encourage housing and economic growth in the right places and for the council to put in place.

Tim Ball, cabinet member for Homes and Planning, said: "Once we have the strategy adopted we can move forward with our Placemaking Plan which will allocate specific sites for development and we can update local plan policies. It means communities across the district will have a clear guide on what can be built where."

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