Mercury Article: New Local Plan Review

The Council has just published the latest version of their Local Plan, which sounds really boring but ought to matter to all of us because it will decide how our towns and villages look and feel for decades to come. It shows what housing, roads and public transport will get built, and where.

So it’s crucially important and, frankly, it’s a bit of a curate’s egg: miles better than some of their previous efforts, but still with some glaring problems too.

First the good news: the proposals for a new small town between Churchill and Congresbury have been dropped. And they’ve pledged to listen to worries the soon-to-be-built Banwell Bypass will cause problems in neighbouring villages like Sandford, Churchill and Winscombe: we’ve got to make sure Banwell’s traffic problems are genuinely solved rather than just relocated a few miles down the road.

There’s a strong focus on ‘Build Up, Not Out’ in urban areas like central Weston, creating four-story townhouses (rather than tower blocks) to match the best of what we’ve got already, and bringing much-needed regeneration to our town. It’s environmentally and financially sensible because it uses existing roads, pipes, fibres, schools and surgeries rather than having to build everything new from scratch over greenfields. It also allows people to live closer to work, and choose to walk/cycle rather than having to drive out of Weston.

But there are still problems too. It calls for more buses and trains, which would certainly help. But they’re cutting bus services at the moment, not adding them. And it’s completely silent on getting rid of the jams around J21 of the M5.

Nor are there any commitments to create new Green Belt, for permanent, long-term protection against urban sprawl in villages like Congresbury, Churchill, Sandford and Langford.

So there’s progress, but more to do. Please visit the Council’s website to have your say by 5pm on Friday 29th April.UK Parliament Disclaimer: this e-mail is confidential to the intended recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail. This e-mail address is not secure, is not encrypted and should not be used for sensitive data.