After a fierce four year campaign led by local MP Luke Hall, the regional housing plans (Joint Spatial Plan, or JSP) which designated thousands of houses in Thornbury, Coalpit Heath, Buckover, North West Yate and Charfield, were effectively defeated this week after Government inspectors outlined their agreement with the case made by the MP that the proposals were fundamentally flawed, recommending that the four councils abandon it in its current form.
The plans launched in 2015 were met with huge opposition from the MP, who led residents and community opposition to it over the last four years and at every step in the process. Every avenue of opportunity to take a stand against the plan was taken;
- Taking the fight to Government Ministers and holding debates in the House of Commons, laying out robust arguments as to why the plans are so deeply flawed in 2017.
- Raised the community’s concerns at the highest levels in Government, helping to ensure Ministers did not back the Buckover ‘Garden Village’ element of the proposals.
- Supported residents and campaigners, including key groups such as VALID, TRAPP’d and Fighting for Charfield, and the Iron Acton Residents group.
- Presented robust technical submissions at every consultation opportunity.
- Galvanised local opposition by conducting local development surveys demonstrating our wholesale opposition to the proposals.
- Demanded that other elected officials, like our Metro Mayor, stand by their commitments and pledges.
- Attended the Buckover Town Meeting to speak against the proposals, and held resident JSP drop in surgeries in Coalpit Heath.
Shortly after the brief findings were announced last month the MP wrote to the inspectors directly to urge them to hold firm and to not accept tinkering.
The 13-page Government inspectors response laid out significant concerns over the fundamental process of site selections, greenbelt development, and the reality of the proposals contrary to the aims put forward suggesting that changes by them would not address the core issues they have found.
The letter and the findings echoes and mirrors the 2017 speech made by the MP who set out robust technical concerns – armed with his evidencing of a total lack of community support (over 90’s across the areas) through his MP surveys.
The four councils now will have to decide how to respond – which could include continuing with restating their case, restarting the process or delaying the plan for more work to be done – however the inspectors emphasised and reiterated firmly that that the flaws in the proposals were so fundamental that the most appropriate course of action would be for them to abandon the plan and start afresh.
Local MP Luke said;
“For now, we have defeated these plans to build thousands of houses across our towns and villages, without putting any real infrastructure in place. It has been a fierce and tough fight spanning over four years, so this news will be a huge relief to everyone who has backed me in this long fight. However, the housing proposals could come back in the coming months and years but in that case every day that I serve as our Member of Parliament, I will continue fight to protect our beautiful community.”
A full catalogue of the four year campaign can be found here; https://www.lukehall.org.uk/campaigns/fighting-joint-spatial-plan