Cabinet backing for plan to build 2,500 houses
PLANS to build up to 2,500 homes on Filton Airfield are a step closer to becoming a reality.
Cabinet members at Conservative-run South Gloucestershire Council met last night to finalise its draft planning blueprint – known as the core strategy – before it goes to a meeting of the full council later today, which will be the last chance for those pressing to save the airfield to win their argument.
The cabinet recommended that the core strategy, which includes proposals to build 2,500 homes on the site, be approved when it is discussed at tonight's full council meeting.
One councillor said that it was the only way forward, and that without it "nowhere in South Gloucestershire would be safe" from developers.
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The airfield's owner BAE Systems plans to close the facility at the end of next year, as it believes it is no longer viable. Consultants have also concluded that it has no future as an airport, but say that the local aviation industry would not be adversely affected by its closure.
An original draft core strategy had been produced before BAE Systems' announcement.
But a planning inspector, who will eventually conduct an examination of the document in public before it can be adopted, said the possible redevelopment of the airfield had to be taken into account by the council.
He also asked the authority to increase its housing figures target of 21,500, to be built by 2026, to 26,400.
The airfield could accommodate up to 2,500 homes and is included in the revised document.
Recommending that the alterations to the core strategy be approved, the authority's cabinet councillor for planning, Brian Allinson, said the council had been forced to respond when BAE Systems announced plans to close the airfield.
He said the council needed a clear planning framework in place.
"Without an up-to-date core strategy we are vulnerable to a very real threat of speculative planning applications," said Mr Allinson. "Nowhere in South Gloucestershire would be safe."
Last night the cabinet went through small changes that had been suggested to the document before the full council vote.
They were also shown a letter from Bristol City Council's cabinet member responsible for housing and regeneration, Anthony Negus, who said the proposals would affect Bristol as well as South Gloucestershire.
"We will be carefully considering the potential impacts of the proposed approach on the communities of north Bristol and the city as a whole," he said.
Before yesterday's meeting Conservative councillors said that approving the new core strategy would strengthen protection of green belt. It includes the protection of land stretching from Pilning through to Frampton Cotterell and down the east of Kingswood.