On the 6th August Government published Planning for the Future, a white paper which once enacted, will seriously curtail local input into housing decisions without increasing the scandalous shortage of truly affordable dwellings.

The consequences for South Gloucestershire are dire. The method of calculating our ‘need’ has been changed; this latest “mutant” algorithm has no relation with reality and ignores all evidence. Furthermore, we will lose the right to have any meaningful input into future strategic plans. It is at best, political dogma, at worst, the sacrifice of local democracy on the altar of profit. This sits uncomfortably with both the promise of localism and obligations on emissions and climate change. S Glos’s declared climate emergency will be nothing but hot (polluted) air.

Each year S Glos will be charged with identifying 2,549 sites, 81% more than the current method; over 20 years, the total will be 50,980. The Office for National Statistics recorded S Glos’s housing stock in 2019 as 119,958 and projects the number required in 2040 to be an increase of 24,055.

S Glos’s last Monitoring Report identified 17,610 approved plots which with windfalls, makes the currently ‘sourced’ total 21,810.

The White Paper demands that S Glos identify another 29,170 plots not the 2,245 the ONS projects. In total we are said to need 1 new site for every 2.35 existing. Errant nonsense.

A large proportion of S Glos is either Green Belt or AONB; the vast majority of land that is neither protected nor developed surrounds the northern communities where the Joint Spatial Plan sited most post Core Strategy development. There are approximately 24,000 dwellings in Charfield, Coalpit Heath/Frampton Cotterell, Thornbury and greater Yate, the WP could see them more than doubled in size.

History proves that governments ignore contrary arguments from ‘consultations’ no matter if they are irrefutably logical, evidence based and widely held. The process of implementing these proposals will be lengthy, during which most current elected terms will end. I entreat readers to study the Paper and make their views known to their local and national representatives.

L Forrest

Chairman CPRE South Gloucestershire