Site Allocations Plan - Main Modifications Consultation

Document Section Site Allocations Plan - Main Modifications Consultation MM22 [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 5118977//1
Respondent Deleted User [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 24 Oct 2017

There will be a disproportionately damaging, and far-reaching effect if the Shipham Lane site is allocated. The site allocations map does not show the AONB, and part of this site encroaches on the AONB.  We are already experiencing a number of applications for stand-alone housing in the AONB surrounding Winscombe. One, centring on a large new dwelling on the site of an old summerhouse, in a wooded location, has recently been consented. This sets a precedent for others to be let through.  However sustainable the design might be, these buildings will not enhance the natural beauty of the landscape, nor will they conserve it.  A large housing estate, not necessarily with many sustainable features, with only 30% affordable housing,  and allocated by the local authority, even if only partly in the AONB, gives a strong message to developers.  The Shipham Lane development, however well-screened by trees, would open the door to further developments in the AONB.   If protection of the countryside is to be more than an empty phrase then this site should not be allocated. 

This site, along with Broadleaze Farm, Coombe Farm, Sweetings Yard, and Land North of Greenhill Road, Sandford, will offer 70% market housing mainly to commuters to existing jobs, mainly in Bristol, if current trends continue..  Even in the short term, they all involve a relatively heavy carbon cost, added air pollution, increased journey times on already congested roads, simply because of the fact that like current Winscombe and Sandford residents, the new residents will rely on private car travel to commute to work, take their children to nursery and school, and to access all those services and facilities the two villages do not have.  The cumulative effect of traffic from existing developments in Banwell, Winscombe, Sandford, Churchill and Langford is already severe, and the impact on health services and overall cost of air pollution has yet to be quantified.  The switch to electric cars, and having an adequate public transport service, is not in sight.  These sites involve permanent loss of countryside and damage to wildlife, apart from the loss of good agricultural land, and all are in a sensitive location within sight of the AONB. 

My overall objection to the allocations of Broadleaze Farm, Coombe Farm, and Shipham Lane is that the allocation criteria are based on the flawed premise that sites can be considered in isolation, without reference to the  cumulative effect of development on settlements and parishes, without reference to the overall land supply situation in North Somerset , and without reference to a hierarchy of land for development..   The land North of Greenhill Road, Sandford,  site (118 dwellings) was consented on appeal, but the same considerations apply to this site, as follows: 

1. A plan which allocates disproportionately large sites like Broadleaze Farm, Coombe Farm, and Shipham Lane to  countryside abutting smaller settlements is benefiting mainly developers building to satisfy demand for expensive homes in the countryside. It is not serving the basic needs of communities and the public interest as it should be.  It is not good planning. 

2. The Council knows that if the demand for market housing ,which will respond to  wider economic trends, should fall, then these sites may not be developed.  Woodborough Farm in Winscombe, at 175 houses, is still not developed after several years. This site allocations plan  is not successfully  tackling the affordable housing need. Even if the sites are built within a few years, the plan perpetuates an already slanted community mix in Winscombe and Sandford..

3.  This plan as it stands will permit permanent damage to the countryside, without any evidence that this is necessary, or that there is no land in North Somerset of lesser environmental value which could be built on. We cannot afford to be so profligate in planning terms.  We know there will have to be many more homes built in future years.  An irreplaceable resource like the countryside, particularly the AONB, should be safeguaried for future generations if at all possible.   

4. Allocating a substantial housing requirement to a countryside area which  lacks jobs, the necessary infrastructure, and adequate transport links, without any immediate prospect of making good those deficiencies is not justifiable. The same argument applies to other settlements in the countryside with comparable allocations.  There is nothing to show that prioritising the right homes in the right places has any place in this interim plan.  There is no evidence of any initiative to find alternative, more suitable sites  which don't involve building in the countryside, and are closer to jobs and main transport links.

5. .  I appreciate this plan is being put forward as an interim measure to meet the housing shortfall, and attempt to get some kind of Local Plan back on track, and that the Council has to work with the realities of local land supply.  However, this method of relying on a call for sites, responded to mainly by speculative developers,  has failed to meet our local housing need for some time now, and someone should have the courage to draw a line protecting the countryside... 

An alternative and far more justifiable and sustainable site allocation plan I suggest, would be based on an up-to-date assessment of land availability in North Somerset, prioritising the use of brownfield land and sites near centres of employment and major transport links, and showing a hierarchy of land for development according to its environmental value.  I have asked for disclosure of Council-held information about brownfield sites and council-owned land in North Somerset, but unfortunately that information has not been forthcoming as yet.