Backwell Neighbourhood Plan: Pre-examination Version

Sections 1-5

1.1.       The Localism Act 2012 provides a new planning regime that allows Parish Councils to draw up Neighbourhood Plans, such as BACKWELL FUTURE. 

1.2.        A Neighbourhood Plan allows communities to influence the planning of the area in which they live.  It offers the community the opportunity to: 

  • Develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood; 
  • Identify where new homes, shops and any other development should be built; 
  • Designate important Local Green Spaces for protection; 
  • Identify other requirements such as car parking and community facilities.                                                       

1.3.        Neighbourhood plans are explained in the Communities and Local Government Plain English guide to the Localism Act viz: 

‘Provided a neighbourhood development plan is in line with national planning policy, with the strategic vision* for the wider area set by the local authority, and with other legal requirements, local people will be able to vote on it in a referendum. If the plan is approved by a majority of those who vote, then the local authority will bring it into force.’ 

[The strategic vision * is explained in North Somerset Council’s Core Strategy 2012]       


2. VISION STATEMENT: To safeguard Backwell for future generations as an attractive place to live with a sustainable village-feel in proximity to the countryside. 


  • Formulate BACKWELL FUTURE based on community views;
  • Develop BACKWELL FUTURE to support, and be consistent with, the North Somerset Core Strategy 2012-26;
  • Promote a healthy community through the support of community and recreational facilities, protect and where possible enhance green infrastructure, and encourage walking and cycling;
  • Verify that schools, health and leisure facilities are adequate for community needs;
  • Identify housing needs by number and type, taking into account demographic change, and where development should take place;
  • Promote appropriate opportunities for local employment;
  • Ensure shops, offices and light industry are able to develop to provide a sustainable local service to the community;
  • Promote sustainable transport including the creation of safe cycling and walking routes, and public transport;  
  • Where possible address highway, congestion and parking problems (including through promotion of sustainable transport);
  • Protect the environment by safeguarding/enhancing areas important for nature conservation, heritage or landscape value;
  • Safeguard the best and most versatile agricultural land in order that it is available for sustained food production;
  • Promote more efficient energy use and renewable energy.


3.1.        Backwell Community Plan 2010 (BCPlan) is the foundation from which BACKWELL FUTURE has been developed.  It is based on extensive community consultation and is available on the Parish Council website  


3.2.        The BCPlan, underpinned by a database of residents’ answers and comments, is both recent and robust.  Further research and consultation has however been conducted to inform on issues that were not included in the BCPlan or which required greater exploration or updating. 

3.3.        The Steering Group.  In July 2011 Backwell Parish Council set up a Steering Group to develop BACKWELL FUTURE.  The Group included Parish Councillors and former members of the BCPlan Steering Group.  The Council advertised within the community for others who possessed appropriate skills and experience to join the Group or to assist as observers.

3.4.        North Somerset Council (NSC).  Officers of NSC worked with the Steering Group and provided specialist and technical advice and information necessary to develop BACKWELL FUTURE.   

3.5.        Consultations. Stakeholders have been consulted throughout the preparation of BACKWELL FUTURE, and particularly with the November 2012 DRAFT PLAN.  Details are summarised in EVIDENCE BASE R the Consultation Statement. 

3.6.        Area covered by BACKWELL FUTURE.  BACKWELL FUTURE covers the Parish of Backwell.



4.1.  The Core Strategy sets out the broad long-term vision, objectives and strategic planning policies for North Somerset up to 2026.  Following an examination, conducted by an independent Inspector, the North Somerset Core Strategy was found ‘sound’ and was formally adopted in April 2012.  It proposed the provision of a minimum of 14,000 new homes by 2026.

4.2.  Following a legal challenge, Policy CS13 (scale of new housing) was found to be unlawful and this matter was remitted back to the Planning Inspectorate for re-examination.  As a consequence the following policies are no longer adopted – CS6, CS13, CS14, CS19, CS28, CS30, CS31, CS32 and CS33.

4.3.  North Somerset Council, with the assistance of specialist demographic analysts, subsequently reviewed the housing requirements.  Taking account of this new information North Somerset Council agreed, at its meeting on 12th November 2013, that the Council's position at the re-examination into the remitted policies will be that the housing requirement is increased from 14,000 to 17,130 dwellings.

4.4.  North Somerset Council informs that the revision to 17,130 dwellings can be delivered on sites which are consistent with the existing spatial strategy, as demonstrated through the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and the Consultation Draft Sites and Policies Plan.

4.5.  The indications are that sufficient sites can be made available to meet the latest requirement without affecting the policy for Service Villages (Policy CS32) that includes Backwell.  This is evidenced by a submission by North Somerset Council to the Planning Inspectorate in August 2013:

"The Council’s position is that even if the housing requirement is increased, the flexibilities in the plan mean that this is likely to be able to be accommodated without changing the spatial strategy (i.e. with no change to the remitted policies other than CS13) and with no change to the Green Belt. For example, the Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft (February 2013) made provision for an anticipated supply of 18,099 dwellings over the plan period, a significant boost to housing supply of nearly 30% over the minimum of 14,000 dwellings set out in Policy CS13. Evidence was also given at the original examination that around 18,000 dwellings was also the ceiling in terms of the total amount of dwellings which could be practically delivered within North Somerset over the plan period given current economic forecasts and lead-in times for new housing sites. Furthermore, whilst the 2008 trend-based projections were pointing to an undeliverable 32,000 households (which would have had significant adverse consequences for the key objectives of more sustainable employment-led growth, reduced out-commuting and improved self-containment), latest objectively assessed evidence is likely to show a substantially lower requirement. In our submission there are very convincing reasons why any necessary change to CS13 is likely to be accommodated within the existing spatial planning framework." North Somerset Council to the Planning Inspectorate in August 2013

4.6.  BACKWELL FUTURE.  The National Planning Policy Framework, at paragraph 184, prescribes that ‘Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan’.  BACKWELL FUTURE therefore needs to be consistent with the North Somerset Core Strategy. 

4.7.  The view has been taken that there is sufficient flexibility in the Core Strategy, and the existing spatial strategy, for BACKWELL FUTURE to proceed to independent Examination.  At least two recent Examiner's reports* have found that there is no need to delay progress with Neighbourhood Plans to await the finalisation of a Core Strategy or Local Plan. *This was a matter considered in both the Tattenhall (Cheshire) and Rolleston on Dove (Staffordshire) Neighbourhood Plan examinations.

 4.8.  Evidence Base S provides a detailed assessment of how BACKWELL FUTURE conforms to the North Somerset Core Strategy.


5.1         A brief history of Backwell.  Backwell is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.  In the 18th century the parish comprised the hamlets of Church Town, Farleigh, West Town, Downside and Moorside (Backwell Common).  



The oldest settlement is Church Town. St Andrew’s Church dates from the 14th century.  The road from Farleigh to Church Town to West Town was the medieval highway.  The track from Farleigh to West Town was improved in the 18th century and is now the A370.  Most of the modern housing was constructed in the period 1950-80.


 5.2         The Backwell Community resides in a vibrant village with a multitude of social, recreational, sporting and spiritual organisations.   The 2011 census informs the following: 


 Source: North Somerset Council and the Office for National Statistics 

5.3         The Backwell environment.  The village experiences high levels of commuting, mainly by road transport, especially to Bristol 7 miles distant, and congestion through the village centre.  The village offers a semi-rural environment that is in contrast to endemic traffic problems and residents place great value in the open spaces and attractive landscape that are features of the village. 


5.4         Residents and local walking groups make extensive use of the many public footpaths.  In 2011 the Parish Council published a booklet of local walks taking in local footpaths and bridleways.  It proved so popular that two reprints were necessary. 

5.5         Backwell Environment Trust manages an extensive area of woodland on Backwell Hill.  Sustainable Backwell is a group taking action to deal with issues of sustainability.  Both organisations have made inputs to BACKWELL FUTURE. 

5.6         Residents wish to safeguard Backwell for future generations as an attractive place to live with a sustainable village-feel in close proximity to the countryside.  Residents’ wishes are the basis of the Vision Statement shown at Section 2.