fbpx Skip to Content

Spatial Development Strategy

Spatial Development Strategy 2021-07-02T16:42:38+01:00

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 full feedback report on The Future of the Region survey.

The Future of the Region survey responses.

Summary of the Spatial Development engagement process

Integrated Impact Assessment for the SDS – scoping report

Next Steps

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.


Public engagement

Autumn 2020 – late 2021



Spring 2022


Examination Spring



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.


If you wish to be kept up to date with the SDS and strategic planning matters please subscribe here for updates (if you cannot view the embedded form, please sign up via this link.

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from West of England Combined Authority:

Your information will be held by WECA, who will use this to update you on strategic planning in the West of England region, and inform you of relevant future consultations. Your information will be held for no more than five years, at which point you will be asked whether you wish to remain on the mailing list. If you have previously been on the mailing list to receive updates on the Joint Spatial Plan, you will not automatically continue to receive updates on joint planning – you will need to opt-in to do so. WECA may share your information with the Combined Authority unitary authorities (B&NES, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire). WECA may at times engage with external consultants as part of the plan making process, and therefore there may be times when details will be shared with those working on behalf of WECA and the West of England unitary authorities. They will not be shared with any other third party, or for any purpose unrelated to strategic planning. Your details will be stored securely in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and only accessed by authorised personnel who have received appropriate training in data management. You have the option to opt out of this mailing list at any time by clicking unsubscribe at the footer of any email communications.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Strategic Planning