Bath Chronicle

Lis­ten to con­cerns on plan­ning changes

- Bath · Bath · Nebraska · Bath and North East Somerset · Bath and North East Somerset · Englishcombe · Radstock · Westfield · Mendip · The Neighbourhood · Keynsham

Some of your read­ers may say, on read­ing this let­ter, “Well, tur­keys don’t vote for Christ­mas”, but I be­lieve that Bath and North East Som­er­set Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee, of­fi­cers and lawyers do a good job, aided of­ten by much use­ful in­for­ma­tion from both sup­port­ers and ob­jec­tors of plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions. The re­cent de­ci­sions you have cov­ered with re­gard to the English­combe Lane hous­ing es­tate and the “Min” hos­pi­tal build­ing, right, demonstrat­e the im­por­tance of plan­ning to res­i­dents, but in fu­ture lo­cal res­i­dents would have no fo­rum in which to voice their con­cerns.

Last week a let­ter re­ceived from Ja­cob Rees-mogg MP was straight out of Con­ser­va­tive cen­tral of­fice laud­ing the at­tempt to in­crease the num­ber of homes to be built, es­pe­cially for first-time buy­ers. This is to miss the point, or ig­nore it com­pletely, that de­lays in the sys­tem are caused by de­vel­op­ers fail­ing to sub­mit nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion and, when they get per­mis­sion, “land bank­ing”. It would be in­vid­i­ous to name names, but it even hap­pens in Rad­stock and West­field, and across his con­stituency there are more than 1,000 houses which should have been built, and have not. A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion ap­plies in Bath.

When peo­ple ask me what a coun­cil­lor does, as they fre­quently do, I say, “plan­ning, pot­holes and park­ing”. Nowa­days I could add “trees and trans­port”, given the prob­lems trees are caus­ing at present on the “Po­ets es­tate” and the Water­side, but it is plan­ning which is the crunch mat­ter. We (West­field Parish Coun­cil and my­self as a B&NES coun­cil­lor) have got in­volved in op­pos­ing the es­tates planned across the bor­der in Mendip, which will have an ad­verse ef­fect on the A367, mar the beau­ti­ful views to­wards Down­side, and over-bur­den our schools.

We could not even seek rem­edy with what is called Sec­tion 106 money be­cause that will be abol­ished.

The Neigh­bour­hood Plan con­sul­ta­tion in West­field 2016-18 re­vealed de­mand for af­ford­able one- and two-bed prop­er­ties for young peo­ple start­ing out in life, and older peo­ple to down­size into, but in­stead we will get “beau­ti­ful” three- and four-bed prop­er­ties that will be too ex­pen­sive for lo­cal peo­ple as “Covid-19 refugees” from the cities drive up the prices.

Don’t get me started on the “dodgy al­go­rithm” be­ing used to cal­cu­late how many houses should be built in this area. It is just as bad as the one used to cal­cu­late A-level re­sults, but this time it in­flates grades, and re­quires us to find dou­ble the num­ber of houses we agreed to find by demo­cratic pro­cess in the Place­mak­ing Plan. Keyn­sham and Bath will be vul­ner­a­ble de­spite all the as­sur­ances to pro­tect the green belt around Bath.

There is a cross-party protest gath­er­ing steam. Please sup­port it, what­ever your pol­i­tics (and sup­port your parish coun­cils and Bath and NE Som­er­set Coun­cil), and lis­ten to Labour’s crit­i­cisms of the pro­posed new plan­ning sys­tem. Eleanor M Jack­son (Cllr) Lab, West­field (in a per­sonal ca­pac­ity)

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