North Somerset Local Plan 2038 Challenges and Choices Part 1: Challenges for the Future

Local Plan 2038: Challenges for the Future

Challenge 6: The future role of the Green Belt

29761 Local Plan Challenges V9 60Explaining the Green Belt

The Green Belt covers about 40% of North Somerset. For over 50 years it has been successful in preventing Bristol sprawling and merging with villages such as Long Ashton, Flax Bourton and Dundry, preventing villages and towns such as Easton-in-Gordano, Failand, Portbury and Tickenham, merging with other villages and the erosion of the countryside around Bristol. The aim of the Green Belt is to keep land open and undeveloped. It is not designated because of any inherent landscape or ecological quality. High quality landscapes, important habitats and open spaces used for recreation within the Green Belt or elsewhere are protected by other policies.

Changes can be made to the Green Belt through local plans although the Government says this should only be done in exceptional circumstances and when the plan is updated. The remaining Green Belt land can be enhanced in terms of its quality and accessibility, or replacement Green Belt could be identified. What is also clear from government is that we must plan in a sustainable way and so this could mean some difficult choices.

Green field development is different from Green Belt

Green field development is just that - development on currently undeveloped green fields. It’s the opposite to brownfield development which involves reusing land which has had some sort development on it either currently or in the past.

Kingston Seymour 2010 009Impacts

People value the Green Belt for different reasons. People living within the Green Belt and close to Bristol value the open countryside which it has protected. Even if you don’t live in the Green Belt you may enjoy visiting or travelling through the open landscapes within it. Whilst the Green Belt has been successful the result has also meant:

  • more growth in and around our villages and towns outside the Green Belt such as Yatton, Congresbury, Weston and Churchill.
  • longer commutes to work for many people, congestion and reduced air quality.

The need to meet emission targets, reduce travelling and build closer to where a lot of people work and spend their leisure time are also important if we are to begin to seriously address climate change, and improve the work/life balance for many working people.

The starting point for looking at new growth is to consider whether it is possible to maintain the current Green Belt and still build the homes needed. We need to decide whether we can deliver the homes needed in a sustainable way, in line with our strategic priorities, before considering altering the Green Belt.

QUESTION 9: Should we be thinking about adjusting the Green Belt boundary if necessary?