‘Brownfield sites alone can’t solve this housing crisis’

Green Belt land north of Warmley

People will be able to have their say from next month on a new planning blueprint for South Gloucestershire which includes removing fields around Warmley, Hanham and Oldland Common from the Green Belt to meet the need for housing.

The council’s Lib Dem-Labour cabinet yesterday agreed that the draft Local Plan, which sets out where 20,490 homes will be built in South Gloucestershire up to the year 2040, can go out for public consultation. The council has had to earmark land for more than 9,000 homes that did not already have planning permission or sites allocated in previous versions of the Local Plan.

All councils must have such a plan, which sets out strategies to build homes and ensure they meet local needs, not just in terms of numbers, but affordability, closeness to local services, and transport and jobs.

Land at Barry Road is also earmarked for development

Conservative group leader Cllr Sam Bromiley, who represents Warmley, told Monday’s cabinet meeting: “Residents who live in the east fringe are right to be concerned that their Green Belt is going to be lost pretty much entirely.” He added that thousands of homes are being planned around Warmley and Shortwood, which could potentially see the two villages merge, and he had been inundated with concerns from residents who are “losing sleep” as there are as yet no clear maps about where development could be.

He asked the coalition: “Have you overlooked a brownfield development in favour of Green Belt sites?”

Green Belt land in Hanham

Cllr Chris Willmore, the Lib Dem cabinet member with responsibility for planning, responded by saying that the council’s previous Conservative leader Toby Savage had stated that any new development would be on brownfield sites but “I don’t know what planet he was on at the time”.

She explained: “We have taken every single brownfield site that the previous administration had identified and allocated them.” She said the coalition would continue hunting for more brownfield sites, including by reviewing the council’s own property portfolio. However, as things stand, she said: “We have maxed out all the brownfield you could possibly put into this emerging strategy – and there will still be a gap.”

Cllr Willmore said the draft proposals preserve the purposes of the Green Belt “but not every green field” – and stressed that there is “no magic land tree”.

She also told the meeting that Bristol City Council has written to say it does not expect South Gloucestershire to takes its housing shortfall.

As well as thousands of homes being planned in the Green Belt around the Warmley and Shortwood area, 350 homes are earmarked on Green Belt land at Barry Road in Oldland Common and in Hanham at Castle Farm Road (125 houses), on land south of Abbots Road (85 houses) and at Castle Inn Farm (60 houses). Among the other sites earmarked for major development are swathes of land around Emersons Green and Lyde Green.

The six-week consultation begins on 6th December which is when maps will be available.