We need a high-level plan to make sure future development in the region provides the right kind of jobs, homes and transport links, in the right places. The Spatial Development Strategy will set out the vision for how people will live, work and play in the West of England over the next 20 years and will help us deliver our commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The key objective of the SDS is for clean, inclusive recovery and growth for the region. It will influence where the homes and jobs in each local area will go and will be important in shaping future decisions on development and creating sustainable places.
The strategy will cover the area of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) area, which includes Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils.
Future of the Region Survey
In November 2020 we asked people living and working in the West of England for their views about the future of the region, to ensure it is a greener, more connected place to live and work. The Future of the Region survey was carried out between 3 November and 14 December 2020. A total of 1,329 individuals and organisations took part in the engagement and shared their views.
The survey asked nine questions about the priorities for the region’s emerging Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) and included a range of important social, environmental and economic issues. It highlighted opportunities for the SDS to achieve its overarching objective of clean, inclusive recovery and growth for the region.
In general, the survey results demonstrated high levels of support across the emerging priorities and principles of the SDS. The responses provide a greater understanding of the things that are most important to people who live and work in the area.
The top themes that repeat throughout the survey responses were:
- The provision of quality homes that are affordable (relative to local incomes) is seen as a key priority for the region
- The importance of providing space for wildlife and nature is rated very highly by respondents. Access to nature and green space is also a key concern
- There are high levels of support for activity to address and prioritise responding to the climate emergency
- A high-quality sustainable transport network is viewed as key to delivering a successful spatial strategy.
The survey was an informal engagement exercise and the responses were the first step in developing a draft of the SDS (alongside evidence and studies). The SDS and supporting evidence is being developed based on national policy, technical assessments and ongoing engagement with stakeholders, alongside consideration of the outputs of this engagement. Updates on the progress of the SDS will be communicated at regular intervals over the coming months as the technical evidence work develops and there will be a need for further engagement aligned to the emerging UA Local Plans.
Given the extraordinary circumstances of this past year, including ongoing changes to national planning policy and regulations, the timetable for the SDS has been kept under review. We have revised the timetable to reflect delays to the conclusion of key evidence base work and provide more time for scenario development and robust scenario appraisal.
Once the draft SDS is prepared in Spring 2022 it will be subject to a full statutory consultation for 12 weeks, providing an opportunity to formally comment on the proposed plan. In the meantime, there will be ongoing engagement with our communities and stakeholders while the draft SDS is prepared.
Autumn 2020 – late 2021
|Examination report mid 2023|
|Online survey and engagement in Autumn 2020
Ongoing stakeholder engagement on evidence base
Residents and stakeholders kept informed of progress
|Statutory consultation on draft plan
Opportunity to comment on the proposed plan and supporting evidence through formal consultation
|Plan examination by a panel of planning inspectors
There will be opportunities for the public to participate in the plan examination process, led by inspectors.
|Publication (adoption) as soon as possible after receiving the report|
This revised timetable continues to allow Local Plans to progress towards key milestones later in 2023.
The Spatial Development Strategy is a statutory requirement for the West of England Combined Authority, which requires unanimous agreement from each of the constituent Authorities of WECA. A Statement of Common Ground (SoCG) is a document recording the collaboration between adjoining authorities and other relevant organisations in seeking to resolve cross-boundary issues. A number of Future of the Region survey respondents highlighted the need for ongoing partnership work, particularly drawing attention to the need for close working with North Somerset Council which forms part of the region’s functional geography. North Somerset is now proceeding with the development of its own Local Plan. This close working with North Somerset Council (and other key strategic partners and neighbouring authorities) to address strategic and cross-boundary issues continues to form a key part of the preparation of the SDS. This partnership working will be documented through the Statement of Common Ground and will be updated as the SDS develops.
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