Bristol

Major west of England housing plan criticised by government

New homes being built Image copyright PA
Image caption West of England councils want to build 105,000 houses in the region

A plan for more than 100,000 houses in the west of England has been criticised by government planning inspectors.

The west of England Joint Spatial Plan sets out the long-term housing and infrastructure needs of the region, including North Somerset, to 2036.

However, as part of an examination in public, inspectors said the plan was not "robust, consistent or objective".

The local authorities across the region have been advised to withdraw the existing proposal and start again.

The plan by Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils aims to help deliver economic growth for the region and address challenges, such as productivity and skills, housing and transport.

The inspectors specifically criticised the way the locations for up to 12 new housing developments were selected and said "reasonable alternatives" had "not been considered".

'Extremely disappointed'

A spokeswoman on the behalf of the four west of England councils said they were "extremely disappointed" at the views of the inspectors.

She said: "We don't underestimate that there is work to do, we also acknowledge this is part of the plan-making process and particularly for an ambitious joint plan of this nature.

"We are the first sub-region in the country to develop a strategic joint plan of this type; and as front runners, we expect to be challenged as part of this process.

She added the councils aimed to provide a "substantive response" to the inspectors' findings to "determine the best way forward".

Bristol Liberal Democrat councillor Tim Kent said: "We gave grave warnings over two years ago that the plan was deficient, the decision making opaque and undemocratic and the conclusions simply wrong."

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