We must build community, not just houses
THOUSANDS of planned new homes on the northern edge of Bristol are in danger of creating a "centre of deprivation", a public inquiry was told.
Councillor Adam Monk, chairman of Filton Town Council, said the mistakes which were made at Bradley Stoke should not be allowed to happen again.
"It was not until recently that the town had its own secondary school and the doctor's surgery based in a portable building," said Mr Monk who also serves on South Gloucestershire Council.
He said he understood the importance of providing more homes for a growing population but he said this must be done in tandem with people's social needs.
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"We need to create a community and not a shallow housing estate, otherwise we are in danger of creating a centre of deprivation," he said.
Mr Monk was speaking at the inquiry into a Core Strategy for South Gloucestershire – a planning blueprint for the area which will set out how it should develop during the next 15 years.
The discussion at yesterday's hearing centred on the merits of a separate blueprint called a supplementary planning document (SPD) which would cover 1,200 acres between the M5 and the railway line that skirts Filton and Henbury.
The area includes Cribbs Causeway, Filton Airfield and Patchway trading estate.
Developers and the council have agreed the total number of homes which would be built is 5,700.
The council insists that an SPD is important because creating the same number of homes as in Yate needs joined up thinking between the developers and the planners.
They say this is vital to promote "sustainable development" – new homes and the necessary infrastructure to go with them.
But some of the developers are worried that the process of adopting an SPD might hold up their plans for thousands of new homes.
Patrick Conroy, for the council, said the SPD would probably be in place by the first quarter of next year. He added any delay on dealing with a large homes scheme would be minimal because they could be tested against the Core Strategy, SPD and normal planning controls at the same time.
He said if the SPD was not used to control new development, then the council would rely on existing planning laws which would probably lead to long delays due to the risk of lengthy planning appeals.
Ms Ann Bartaby, for BAE Systems, argued there was enough council policy already in existence to question the need for an SPD.
She said the absence of an SPD did not equal piecemeal development.
But Mr Monk said he was shocked at the idea of building so many homes without a clear master plan for the area.
Planning inspector Paul Crysell said the amount of progress made between the council and the developers over the future of the area made him question the need for an SPD.
Transport consultant Tony Meehan said the volume of traffic would increase whether new homes were built or not.
If they were, then he was satisfied that the existing road network could cope as long as there were improvements to some critical junctions and the introduction of better public transport such as the proposed rapid bus link between the northern fringe and Hengrove, and extra bus services. The opening of the Henbury Loop railway line would also ease congestion.