Local Conservative MP Luke Hall has come out against the plans laid out in the JSP and JTS, which threaten a doubling in size of Charfield and increases in other rural parts of South Gloucestershire. You’ve probably received his letter, or will soon do so. For information, here are both sides of mine.
Parishioners may be interested in the attached.
The attached response was agreed at the full Council meeting of 13th December.
Thank you all for coming this evening, and taking such an active interest in the village – your village. As requested, here are PDF copies of the PowerPoint slides, my speakers notes and the JSP Consultation suggestion sheet.
It’s worth knowing that many of you are now in the Charfield Village Forum, a closed group on Facebook, and that discussions are taking place there.
Please, if your neighbour could not be at this evening’s meeting, update them and ask them to get actively involved by responding to the JSP and JTS consultations.
Re-printed here with permission of Wotton Town Council, their submitted response to the WoE Joint Spatial Strategy and Joint Transport Study:
Wotton Town Council
Regarding the consultation of the Joint Spatial Strategy and Joint Transport Plan for South Gloucestershire, Wotton-under-Edge Town Council discussed the effect of increased housing numbers on its already stretched infrastructure. The proposals to double the size of the village of Charfield – which is a couple of miles south of Wotton-under-Edge – are a serious concern unless it is combined with large scale infrastructure investment.
The comments are as follows:
- Wotton-under-Edge is the nearest and main service centre for Charfield and surrounding villages. Despite being just over the county boundary and on the northern tip of South Gloucestershire, residents of Charfield and environs rely heavily upon the local facilities provided by doctors, dentist, schools, and other commercial facilities.
- Wotton-under Edge has been defined as a local service centre in the Stroud District Local Plan 2015 – however the same plan acknowledges that Wotton faces severe transport issues to the extent that no new local housing developments are allowed unless two car spaces are now allowed as opposed to the national guideline of 1 per dwelling.
- The Stroud District Car Parking Survey of 2011 states that Wotton is in need of more car parking. This is also backed up by a Town Council random survey of car parking undertaken in October 2016. The roads in Wotton are regularly choked with traffic – this is not helped by a largely unchanged medieval central street system which (although pretty) was designed for the horse and cart and not modern large vehicles.
- There is a concern that this Joint Spatial Strategy is pushing the requirement for development into the northern reaches of South Gloucestershire county and other northern areas under review, and consequently pushing the problem into the hands of other county councils to sort out! However the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (NPPF) under its Core Planning Policy Principle 31, regarding promoting sustainable transport, states that:
“Local authorities should work with neighbouring authorities and transport providers to develop strategies for the provision of viable infrastructure necessary to support sustainable development, including large scale facilities such as rail freight interchanges, roadside facilities for motorists or transport investment necessary to support strategies for growth”
Gloucestershire County Council has already identified Charfield Railway Station as a viable method to alleviate local transport problems. This Town Council strongly feels that this issue needs to be addressed before any future housing growth is considered in the area of Charfield & environs. The provision of roadside facilities for motorists in Wotton should also be part of the JSS consideration since unsustainable pressure would be brought to bear upon parking facilities and access routes into and through Wotton-under-Edge which is the local town and main service centre.
- The NPPF also requires development to be sustainable. Core Principle 37 states that:
“Planning policies should aim for a balance of land uses within their area so that people can be encouraged to minimise journey lengths for employment.”
- Charfield is a rural village with minimal employment. Wotton also provides minimal employment. Most residents travel over 15 miles north or south along the M5 corridor towards Gloucester or Bristol and thus the principle of sustainable development minimising travel to employment would not be met. (Unless Charfield railway station can be reopened – to provide sustainable transport). The pressure also on Junction 14 of the M5 from this development proposal – coupled with the proposal of a further ‘mini town’ at Buckover on the northern fringes of Thornbury – would lead to unsustainable levels of car use reliant upon a single motorway junction which is currently unable to cope at rush hour.
Recognising the potentially devastating effects these proposals could have on Charfield specifically, there is a meeting for parishioners on Tuesday 6th December at 19:30 in the village hall, where the Parish Council and Ward Councillor will offer thoughts as to why if and how we should respond to the consultations.
Charfield Parish Council is aware that these documents present an additional thousand homes for our village, doubling it in size over the next two decades, while making seemingly inadequate provision for the increase in traffic, the additional children, and the employment aspirations of the people expected to move to Charfield. That they also propose an additional two to three thousand homes just over the motorway, on the A38 between Whitfield and Milbury Heath, and offer little scope for improving the already “at capacity” junction 14 of the M5 leads Charfield Parish Council to believe this is a poorly thought through and unsustainable plan.
Take a look here http://tinyurl.com/ja2khe9 and tell me if you get past the first paragraph before nodding. Maddening, isn’t it. And yet, Neighbourhood Planning is the only tool we have in the toolbox, and today a group of us have been putting surveys into envelopes, ready for distribution to your doors. It’s not a single sheet survey; it needs a good half an hour to complete. It does come with a pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope though, and I urge you all please to fill in your Charfield Neighbourhood Plan Survey and post it back!
Last night, the Clerk and I attended a presentation by South Gloucestershire on The West of England emerging Joint Spatial Plan and Joint Transport Study [link] and how these major processes will affect Charfield between now and 2036. I need to be clear; this was a pre-consultation presentation, and everything can change. Nevertheless, what we were presented with was:
- another 1000 homes in Charfield over and above what’s already built, being built and permitted to be built at this time.
- 2200 eventually rising to 3000 new houses in a garden village at “Buckover” (which is on and around the A38 between Milbury Heath and Falfield)
- Massive transport infrastructure improvements within and tightly around Bristol but essentially doing little in our area even to improve existing traffic concerns.
My personal opinion is that Charfield appears in these plans solely because of the frankly bewildering commentary of the Planning Inspector when she ruled on the “Charfield Green Appeal” Public Inquiry and suggested the harm of developing Charfield was worth it to the county, and that the new garden village of Buckover is simply an opportunity grasped by the landowner in the face of the five year land housing shortage. In any sensibly managed infrastructure plan one would not put thousands of homes into a landscape served only by an overburdened motorway, an over-capacity motorway junction, and miles of congested country lanes.
My intention here is to encourage you to respond to BOTH the Neighbourhood Plan Survey now, AND to the WoE JSP/JTS Consultation when it goes live on November 7th. Both matters affect everything about your life in Charfield. If we present clear opposition, backed by evidence showing that the JSP/JTS is inadequate in our area and fails any test of sustainability we may cause them to look again.
Localism was a key target of the 2010 Government, and continues to be the mantra that is put out whenever housing need is discussed. Make it Local. Put your views forward. Make the Neighbourhood Plan for Charfield your aspiration for your community, and fight any top-down pressure to squander your right to a quality life.
I started with one link. Let me end with another, from Bristol. This is today’s Evening Post. It’s not just Charfield that is feeling abused by inadequate planning vision. Let’s get the message back to WoE and South Gloucestershire; this will not work. When the Consultation goes live, I’ll be here with the link for you to click.