Core Strategy - Consultation Draft

Comment ID 706241/CSCD/1
Document Section Core Strategy - Consultation Draft Further Comments Content View all on this section
Respondent Nailsea Town Council View all by this respondent
Response Date 02 Mar 2010
There are specific issues regarding the content of the Core Strategy that the Council wishes to address.
1. Words and phrases with assumed meanings. These include:
a) 'sustainability', 'self containment' and 'mixed and balanced communities': these are assumed to be desirable but must be defined in relation to individual settlements in order to have meaning. Without definitions they can actually become misleading because they mean very different things to different people.

b) 'employment-led growth': if new employers can be attracted to the Town what type of jobs will be created? Is it likely that, say, a large professional services business will relocate to Nailsea? If a warehousing company relocates they may create a small number of jobs but the impact on the road infrastructure could be very unwelcome. A call centre with many part-time staff would have a very different impact.

'Employment-led' growth is a laudable concept but is complex in practice and, if applied inflexibly, could act to artificially constrain other critical goals of the Strategy. The existing facilities for employers should be improved, but new employment should not be a precondition for other new development such as leisure or housing. [THIS WOULD BE A CHANGE TO THE EXISTING TOWN COUNCIL APPROACH THAT DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE EMPLOYMENT-LED]

c) 'out-commuting': this is assumed to be undesirable but the picture resulting from scenarios where it is decreased are not uniformly attractive e.g if significant new jobs cannot be created, a reduction in out-commuting will be the result of fewer people in work either through age or unemployment. This will have a negative impact on the local economy. A certain level of out-commuting therefore could be an indicator of economic health in the Town.

2. Logical inconsistencies
The lack of clarity with regard to words and phrases with assumed meanings has created some logical inconsistencies within the strategy. Specific to Nailsea, policies such as no change to the Green Belt and a reactive housing policy are mutually exclusive to the aspiration for a sustainable community with a balanced population. The rejection in principle to changes in the Green Belt, whilst promoting the vision and objectives of the Strategy is not tenable.

Measures of Success
The success of the Core Strategy will be judged by whether or not measurable or observable improvements have occurred during the period in which it operates.

For Nailsea, the criteria against which the Core Strategy will be judged include the following. These are regarded as specific areas that represent an element of 'sustainability'. Each of the measures uses the situation as it prevailed in January 2010 as the benchmark:

Item Less No change More
Green Belt ? Renegotiate the boundaries and extent of Green Belt.
Housing ?Controls over type and mix
Junior and infant school rolls ?
Leisure and cultural facilities ?
Local employment ?
Nailsea School roll ?
Out-commuting ?
Public Open spaces ?
Public Transport ? The cost, especially of bus services, acts as a constraint on usage
Retail outlets ?Concerns over type and mix

The area of most significance and complexity is the age profile of the population. The analysis included as an appendix highlights the following issues:
1. There are significant trends which have been, and are continuing to affect, the demographic structure of the town.
2. In essence the population age structure is rapidly moving toward one which the Town Council regards as 'unbalanced' in terms of long term sustainability for the Town.
3. The total number of school students in Nailsea is declining.
4. The major cause of the imbalance is the availability and affordability of housing. Nailsea has a shortage of properties suitable and affordable for younger people and the parents of school-age children seeking family homes. Equally, it has a shortage of properties allowing older people to downsize.
5. Planning applications for new builds tend to be for larger, more expensive properties.

The Council regards this information to be a "robust evidence base" (Core Strategy 1.14) and therefore adequate to influence Core Strategy "decision and plan making."