Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire are pointing to the danger in which Government rules have placed its Green Belt following a recent planning application appeal in the district. Last week an inspector from the central government planning service overturned South Gloucestershire Council’s rejection of a bid to build up to 106 houses near Charfield.
The inspector made clear that the national planning framework brought in by the Conservative-led Coalition has an in-built presumption in favour of development if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites. The council believed that it had demonstrated this supply, so Labour councillors have asked officers of the Conservative-majority authority how the council will respond to this judgement, which could have far-reaching implications.
Councillor Roger Hutchinson (Labour, Filton), who leads on planning issues for Labour, says:
“South Gloucestershire’s officers and councillors have worked tirelessly to demonstrate that we have a five-year land supply. We have jumped through every hoop required of us to meet this rule, and we should be allowed to direct developments where we - on behalf of our communities - feel they are most appropriate.
This appeal judgement based on Conservative national policy has the potential to give a green light to housing developers to build where they like. The council is under greater pressure than ever to deliver housing growth, and with central government inspectors taking these decisions for us our Green Belt is being put at a heightened risk of development.
The Conservatives have slanted the national planning rules towards making life easier for developers to pursue large-scale developments where they want, so their claims that they care about protecting the Green Belt will ring hollow to many in South Gloucestershire.”