A new ‘Local Plan’ for housing is set to be published by South Gloucestershire Council in the coming weeks. The one thing that everyone has agreed on is that many of our towns and villages have already taken more than their fair share of development. There is already significant pressure on local roads, medical services and community facilities.
Previous proposals that I am adamant must not feature in the new housing plan are the ridiculous proposals to build a 3,000 house ‘Garden Village’ at Buckover, over 1000 homes on the Greenbelt in Coalpit Heath and a 35% expansion of Chipping Sodbury.
The lack of proposed employment, the reliance on our rural facilities, the extreme pressure it would put on the already congested road network, and the environmental impact means the proposals have lost all credibility. The Government rejected the plans in 2019 following my intervention. Surely, these plans as dead as a dodo.
I have always campaigned fiercely against these inappropriate proposals to slap such a vast extension onto the edge of Thornbury, that would transform the identity of our town and infringe upon our landscape and natural environment and undermine Thornbury’s heritage and public services. Buckover has always been unsustainable proposal.
Together, we surveyed every household in Thornbury and Alveston, and the results demonstrated the complete lack of community support for the plans. I held debates in Parliament and raised our concerns repeatedly with Ministers and ensured it was rejected by the Government.
But just because the plans of the past will surely be rejected, this doesn’t mean the challenges we face have disappeared. It won’t be good enough for South Gloucestershire Council to simply reject bad plans. They must deliver a good one. Thornbury, Yate and the surrounding villages need a Positive Plan to cope with the expansion the town has already seen. In my Positive Plan for the area, I am campaigning for better infrastructure; better roads, a proper plan to bring back buses to our town, including direct connections to Southmead. We need a new Health Centre, more community facilities, and a guarantee of free parking in public car parks.
South Gloucestershire is the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family. No wonder developers want to build here. But it’s not enough to just reject bad ideas for our area, the Council needs good ones. It’s time that residents are listened to.