People living and working in the West of England have until 14 December to share their views to help shape the Spatial Development Strategy, to make sure homes, employment spaces and vital transport links are planned in the right places over the next 20 years.
The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has already received almost 1,000 responses to the survey it is running, and more than 260 people have registered to attend a series of online webinars over the last month.
Residents and businesses can still give their views via the survey on the West of England Combined Authority website. Paper copies of the survey are available on request by calling 0117 428 6210 or by email at email@example.com.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “I’m very grateful to everyone who has shared their views with us so far. There is still time to get involved if you haven’t done so already. Whether you are a resident, business or other organisation based in the West of England, I urge you to make sure your voice is heard at this early stage of the process, so that as the work progresses it reflects the priorities of the people who live and work here.
“This Spatial Development Strategy will make sure that over the next 20 years, we are building homes and providing jobs and infrastructure in the right places, so that the West of England remains a great place to live and work. Importantly, it will also make sure we are building sustainable communities that are less reliant on cars, improving our environment and connecting our residents to jobs, education, businesses and leisure facilities right across the region.”
As the region’s population grows and as people live longer, the amount and type of housing that is needed across the West of England is changing. Covid-19 has also altered the way many people are working, travelling and spending their leisure time.
The strategy will help make sure residents have the homes they need, where they want to live with the connections to get to job opportunities, education and leisure across the region.
It offers an opportunity to plan for a cleaner, greener recovery, ensuring new development is resilient, contributes towards reducing carbon emissions, and brings improvements for nature and sustainability.
The West of England Combined Authority is working with Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils, stakeholders and residents to develop the plan. Details of the survey have been shared with a wide range of communities and equalities groups, as well as being publicised in local newspapers and online.
Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The Spatial Development Strategy will directly affect how people in Bath and North East Somerset live, work and enjoy leisure time. It is important to share your views and take part in the consultation especially as we all work towards a 2030 carbon neutral target, which means seeking sustainable solutions to housing, transport and the economy.”
Cllr Nicola Beech, Bristol Council’s Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning and City Design said: “It’s really important that people take the chance to tell us what is most important to them as we plan how to build a more sustainable and inclusive Bristol.
“Guided by the Global Sustainable Development Goals, we want to make sure the plan reflects the priorities of those who live and work here, whether these priorities are improving access to homes and jobs, protecting green spaces, building new homes, or anything else that can help us to create a more equal, sustainable and diverse region.”
South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure, Councillor Steve Reade, said: “The SDS is important to South Gloucestershire residents because it will feed into and influence our own new Local Plan and in particular the amount of new homes that will be required to be built. We really want to hear from residents and employers with their views on how and where we can work together to shape our future growth right across the region. We want to hear about the things that are important to you which need to be reflected in plans for new homes and new business areas to become part of our thriving community.”
The survey closes on 14 December 2020. Responses to the survey are the first step in developing a draft of the Spatial Development Strategy alongside technical evidence and studies. Once the draft is completed and published in 2021, it will be subject to a full statutory consultation, providing the opportunity to formally comment on the proposed plan.
Once the Spatial Development Strategy is agreed and published, it will form part of the ‘development plan’ alongside council’s own Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans which will be considered when determining planning applications across the region.
For more information and the survey visit https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/future-of-the-region/
If you live or work in North Somerset, you can take part in the North Somerset Local Plan Choices Consultation which will run at the same time as the survey on the SDS. WECA and North Somerset will be co-operating on the development of both plans.