Local plans for development – have your say

The West of England is facing an unprecedented increase in housing development over the next 20 years.

In January we shared information on our response to the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), the high level plan that sets out the location and quantity of proposed new development across the region.

The JSP itself is supported by Local Plans for each unitary authority (Bristol, B&NES, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset) and these give more detail about the specifics of the planned development in these areas. The detail includes housing density, infrastructure and sustainability proposals.

The Local Plans for Bristol and for South Gloucestershire are now open for consultation. The Local Plans for B&NES and North Somerset will open for consultation in the coming months.

Avon Wildlife Trust is working in partnership with the West of England Nature Partnership and the Bristol Green Capital Partnership to craft our response to the Local Plan for Bristol, and we will also submit a response to the Local Plan for South Gloucestershire. These responses are in progress and include specific points that relate to the plans for each area.

However, there are some common themes across the plans. While we welcome the focus on sustainability and the value of the natural environment for health and wellbeing, Avon Wildlife Trust will be calling for:

  • Effective mechanisms to be put in place to ensure developers do meet their legal responsibility to deliver a net gain for the environment, for example by using the Building With Nature benchmark.
  • Attention to the timing of the consultation responses. There are currently a number of supporting Plans in development that must be used to inform the Local Plan delivery. These include the Joint Green Infrastructure Plan, the Joint Transport Plan and the Clean Air Action Plan for Bristol. The timing of these supporting plans does not currently mesh with the Local Plan consultation timetable and we think it should.
  • Explicit description about provision of wildlife corridors, not just ‘open green space’. Where there are plans to re-allocate this ‘open green space’ for development, that this is done only after a needs assessment in conjunction with the Joint Green Infrastructure Plan. The resulting plans must set out how any loss of green space will be mitigated by creation of new green space to ensure an overall net gain for the environment. 

The results of these consultations are important for the future of wildlife in our region. The JSP offers the opportunity to make landscape scale decisions that support wildlife to move, breed and feed throughout the West of England.
Developers can build in nature from the beginning to deliver green and wild neighbourhoods that are good for people and wildlife. Guidance and expertise already exists to help this process. The Local Plans are an important step towards realising these opportunities.

If you are able to respond to the Local Plan consultation for your area, please do so, adding your own opinions to the points above. The Bristol Local Plan consultation ends on 13th April 2018. The South Gloucestershire consultation ends on 30th April.