South Gloucestershire's Labour Campaign Team
The Bristol Post published this letter from Councillor Bill Bowrey, a former chair of the West of England Aerospace Forum, on 22nd March 2013.
Labour Group's submission on the Inspector's proposed Main Modifications to the Core Strategy (November 2012)
To read Labour Group's submission to the consultation on the Inspector's proposed Main Modifications to South Gloucestershire's Core Strategy in November 2012, please click on the PDF icon to the right.
The Bristol Evening Post published the following letters from councillors Adam Monk on 20th December 2011 and Ian Boulton on 22nd December 2011
Labour Group’s reaction to the publication of the revised Core Strategy, proposing 5,700 new homes on Filton Airfield and neighbouring sites
Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire have denounced a reliance on developing Filton Airfield to deliver a Government-appointed Inspector’s higher housing demands.
In a revision to the Core Strategy, the Council’s 15-year planning framework just published, the new homes supply number for South Gloucestershire is proposed to increase by 4,855 (to 26,435) – with 81% of this additional number to be located on Filton Airfield and the neighbouring Cribbs/Patchway area. Added to those already in the original plan, this will result in 5,700 new homes in the area. This is despite the strategic economic importance of the Airfield, the widespread local support for it to remain, and existing congestion problems.
The Strategy is being revised to meet the demands of a Government-appointed Inspector who told South Gloucestershire in August that he wanted the authority to do work to identify locations for an increased number of new homes. Labour councillors have consistently opposed the redevelopment of the Airfield and are now arguing that BAE Systems’ decision to close the Airfield is being used by the council as a short-term windfall to plug the gap.
Labour Group Leader Councillor Andy Perkins (Labour, Woodstock) said:
“We know that the Government Inspector wants more new homes in addition to the 21,500 initially planned, despite high-profile Conservative and Liberal Democrat election campaigns against growth above this figure.
The council is in danger of responding with no long-term vision for the district. The Council is proposing that the Airfield should be redeveloped without sufficient work being done on possible alternatives. There is no Plan B if the Airfield site is not developed. The neighbouring sites around Cribbs Causeway and the airfield in particular have been singled out as a convenient dumping ground for nearly all of these additional homes.”
Local councillor Ian Scott (Labour, Filton) added:
“The North Fringe already suffers from terrible congestion and the addition of 5,700 new homes is an awful prospect. Development on this scale would seriously damage the quality of life not only in the immediate areas of Filton and Patchway but in neighbouring districts including Stoke Gifford, Bradley Stoke and Almondsbury. I can foresee the Ring Road, the A38 and the local motorway network gridlocked if this many new homes are built here. We have no assurance that measures to overcome congestion, such as the rapid transit scheme or new passenger rail services, will ever materialise.”
The revised Core Strategy will now go through a series of meetings culminating in a Full Council decision on 14th December. A seven-week public consultation period will then follow before the Government Inspector holds his hearing into the Council’s plans in the Spring.
Councillor Perkins added;
“We will continue to argue that redevelopment of the airfield is not in the long-term interests of South Gloucestershire nor indeed the wider region around Bristol and will encourage anyone who feels the same to make the strongest representations they can during the public consultation phase.”
3rd December 2011
Fury at ‘meaningless cop-out’ on Filton Airfield
South Gloucestershire’s first debate on the future of Filton Airfield ended in acrimony tonight, with Labour councillors slamming the ‘meaningless cop-out’ forced through by the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat partners.
Reflecting the strongly-held view of local people that the closure and redevelopment of the Airfield site – proposed by its owners BAE Systems – should be contested, Labour councillors had urged the Council “to throw its support behind the efforts to retain the Airfield and defend engineering jobs into the future” and “not to proceed with policies or actions that would facilitate development on the Airfield”. However this wording was struck out by Tory and Lib Dem councillors who instead simply encouraged local people to take part in consultations.
Labour Group Leader Councillor Andy Perkins (Labour, Woodstock) said:
“The other parties have shown a complete failure of leadership on this issue and have let residents down. The future of Filton Airfield is one of the biggest issues facing South Gloucestershire yet the Tories and Lib Dems are not willing to offer an opinion about the future of the site. I am embarrassed by their actions, and they should be ashamed.”
Local councillor Ian Scott (Labour, Filton), who proposed the original wording, added:
“This is a slap in the face for the people of Filton and Patchway, and indeed the whole district. There is a groundswell of opposition to the Airfield’s closure and redevelopment, and many of us remain unconvinced that the site is unviable if the will was there. Our communities were asking their Council to support them, but instead the Tory and Liberal Democrat councillors have voted through a meaningless cop-out which expresses no commitment or even an opinion.”
Labour councillors abstained on the final vote. Councillor Perkins explained:
“We have been encouraging people from the start to take part in the consultation but the Lib Dems’ amendment ripped the heart out of what we wanted to say. We could not collude with the other parties in ducking the issue.”
Also at the meeting Councillor Adam Monk (Labour, Filton) formally presented a 525 name e-petition calling on the Council to protect the Airfield.
19th October 2011
Labour Group response to the Filton Airfield Position Statement consultation
1) Do you agree that the Core Strategy should take account of the impending closure of Filton Airfield? If not, why not?
The Labour Group of councillors on South Gloucestershire Council believes that the Filton-Patchway area should be a world centre of excellence in aerospace, supporting high-value skilled engineering jobs with an airfield runway as a unique asset at its hub.
Filton Airfield is an integral and strategic part of the success of the aerospace industry in this area and the
Labour Group therefore does not accept the “impending closure” of Filton Airfield. We have not been persuaded that there is no operational future for the runway. Labour Group is therefore resistant to BAe, South Gloucestershire Council or the Independent Planning Inspector rushing to make plans for an alternative use for the Airfield.
Labour Group believes that the council’s Core Strategy, the Independent Planning Inspector and Her Majesty’s Government should recognise the centrality of the airfield in safeguarding the future of Filton-Patchway as an aerospace centre. The airfield site could play an important role supporting the aerospace industry and jobs into the future. Labour Group believes that decisions must not be rushed that would have far-reaching consequences for the long-term vibrancy of the local aerospace economy.
2) Which of the 3 options do you consider is the correct approach to take in the Core Strategy? If none of the options, what approach do you consider should be followed instead?
Unfortunately none of the options reflects Labour Group’s position outlined in answer to question 1. Although option 1 purports to be the ‘no change’ option, the council is still seeking to remove the wording which refers to safeguarding the operational use of the Airfield. Labour Group rejects this.
Labour Group supports renewed efforts to safeguard the operational use of Filton Airfield and is disappointed that this is not being offered as a consultation option.
3) With Option 3, do you agree that the detail of any development proposals should be set out in subsequent plans - namely the Sites, Policies and Places Development Plan Document and supporting Supplementary Planning Document - providing a further and more detailed opportunity for extensive community involvement in their preparation? If not, what approach do you consider should be followed instead?
Labour Group does not accept that the Airfield should be developed and will not be railroaded into commenting on the process for achieving this.
4) Do you have any comments on the suggested policy and text wording and figure changes to the Core Strategy set out in Appendix 1?
To repeat the point made in answer to question 2, Labour Group feels that the text and figure changes suggested for option 1 (paragraph 48) do not reflect a ‘no change’ option, as claimed.
5) Would you like to request to appear at the Examination in relation to any comments you submit on the Position Statement?
Yes, Labour Group would very much welcome the opportunity to appear at the Examination to put forward our vision for Filton-Patchway being a world centre of excellence in aerospace, supporting high-value skilled engineering jobs with an airfield runway as a unique asset at its hub.
6) Any other comments?
Labour Group is disappointed that the Inspector has not made his views from the 29 June Exploratory Meeting public before this consultation closed, particularly as he had indicated that he would make them available a few weeks after the meeting. As the two issues of the Core Strategy and the Airfield have become intimately linked his attitude to the status of the Strategy would have been very helpful information to have in approaching the consultation.
Submitted 29 July 2011