The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is starting work on a new Spatial Development Strategy for the region.
Local and regional authorities are required by the Government to have a strategic plan in place to direct new development in their region. The WECA Committee agreed today (19 June), to begin work on the Spatial Development Strategy (SDS), which will direct the development of homes, infrastructure and jobs and communities. The SDS will put clean, inclusive growth at the heart of the region’s approach and will support the region’s post-Covid economic recovery by setting out the longer-term spatial vision for the area.
WECA will be working with its constituent councils – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire – as well as working with neighbouring North Somerset Council on a shared evidence base.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “We need a spatial strategy for our region to give us the sustainable places our residents and businesses will require for generations to come.
“This strategy is a fresh start and will see our region working together to create a framework for the future that is based on robust evidence and benefits all of our communities.”
Initial work will identify the overall amount of housing and jobs required within the West of England; as well as shared strategic priorities to achieve sustainable development. The first phase will be a detailed technical evidence base, followed by consultation and engagement in 2021; the committee approved £2m in investment for this work.
The SDS will be a high-level strategy, supported by Local Plans being developed by each council.
Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We are committed to working collaboratively with our partners in the West of England to meet the housing and employment needs of residents in Bath and North East Somerset and to support the sustainable growth of the region.
“This new strategy for the WECA area provides us with the opportunity to directly address the climate and ecological emergency in our plans which will guide the future delivery of inspirational places where people want to live and work. It is even more important that we plan strategically to support our economic recovery following Covid-19 in a way that enhances the quality of life and environment for all.”
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “This is a significant opportunity to work in partnership with our colleagues across the region to deliver the homes, jobs and inclusive and sustainable future that the West of England needs.
“A new spatial strategy for the WECA area allows us to create a shared vision that avoids fragmented development while embedding sustainability and fairness from the very beginning. By working together and using the Global Sustainable Development Goals to guide the strategy, we can establish a joined-up framework to address the climate and ecological emergencies, support the improvement of health and education for all and set a course for the region’s economic recovery.”
North Somerset Council Leader Cllr Don Davies said: “As a neighbouring authority we welcome the opportunity to work alongside WECA as we both prepare our strategic plans for the future. We look forward to sharing as much evidence as we can, to ensure our respective plans are as aligned as possible.”
Councillor Toby Savage, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said: “We recognise the need to work together with our neighbouring councils through our membership of WECA to deliver a sustainable plan for all our future growth. We want to deliver the places to live and work for the coming generations, and to do so in such a way that maintains and improves the quality of life and environment for us all.”
The SDS is a fresh start for strategic planning in the West of England; providing a new opportunity for the region to respond to changing priorities, shaping the development and regeneration of great places to live and work whilst addressing the challenge of climate and ecological emergency, and the recovery from Covid-19.