Housing masterplan should involve ‘building up not creating garden villages’

A housing masterplan should have been ‘bolder’ by recommending multi-storey housing blocks for places like Weston-super-Mare instead of creating new ‘garden villages’, according to MP John Penrose.

Mr Penrose, MP for Weston and the surrounding villages, was responding to a consultation for the West of England’s Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) when he made the comments.

The JSP was created by authorities, including North Somerset Council, to lay out a vision for house-building in the West of England up to 2036.

More than 25,000 homes are proposed for the district, with about 105,000 earmarked for the West of England region.

Thousands of consultation comments were published this week, including Mr Penrose’s letter.

The JSP includes proposals for two ‘garden villages’ – one next to Banwell with 1,900 homes and another by Churchill with 2,675 homes.

Mr Penrose said these were ‘misleadingly’ called garden villages, and would be better-described as towns.

He said he was ‘delighted’ to see a committing to building ‘up not out’ in towns such as Weston included in the JSP.

MORE: Is a Banwell bypass in return for 2,000 homes a fair trade?

He added: “The plan should be far bolder in this area.

“Currently, only a fraction of the new housing is proposed for the centre of towns (mainly in Weston) and there is a great deal more potential capacity for creating good-looking four, five, or six-storey mansion blocks, terraces or mews housing (rather than high-rise towers) in other urban areas like Bristol.”

He said villagers in Banwell and Churchill were ‘rightly concerned’ the garden villages will ‘degrade the rural character of the area’.

He said the Banwell bypass proposed in the JSP is long overdue, but a new Junction 21A onto the M5 should not be a condition for getting it built.

Mr Penrose also argues a new greenbelt area should be in place along the northern edge of the Mendip Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to protect some of the district’s villages which have already been targeted by housing developers.

He said: “Opportunistic development pressure on villages like Congresbury, Churchill, Yatton and Sandford will then be relieved with a permanently higher level of protection in place.

“This will encourage developers to look into other options, such as building up not out.”

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