West of England Joint Spatial Plan

West of England Joint Spatial Plan: Publication - November 2017

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

A plan for sustainable growth

1. The West of England (WoE) currently faces a key challenge: how to accommodate and deliver much needed new homes and jobs properly supported by infrastructure to create attractive places, while maintaining the environmental assets and quality of life unique to our area. The scale of the issue to be addressed requires an ambitious strategic response.

2. The local authorities of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council have joined forces to prepare the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP). The JSP is a statutory Development Plan Document (DPD) that will provide the strategic overarching development framework for the West of England to 2036. Joint working on this plan is part of the authorities ongoing commitment to meeting the Duty to Cooperate.

3. In tandem with the JSP, a Joint Transport Study (JTS) has been prepared. The JTS has identified potential future strategic transport proposals for delivery up to 2036 that address current challenges on the network and to inform future development proposals in this plan. The JTS sets out the following Transport Vision:

"Transport in the West of England will be transformed over the next 20 years through a programme of complementary measures designed to address underlying challenges and to enable the sustainable delivery of new housing and employment growth."

4. The JTS has informed, and has been informed by, the JSP. This joint approach to planning and transport will ensure that future growth decisions are made with an understanding of the necessary transport investment needed to achieve sustainable communities.

Purpose of the Joint Spatial Plan

5. The four authorities are committed to a positive plan-led approach to steer the nature and location of future development and secure funding for essential infrastructure. This is consistent with the Government's core planning principles and the Duty to Cooperate. The JSP will form the strategic policy for individual Local Plans prepared by the four authorities. The scope of the JSP, with its supporting evidence base, is focused on addressing the following critical issues:

    • identifying the number of new market and affordable homes and amount of employment land that is needed across the West of England 2016-2036.
    • identifying the most appropriate spatial strategy and strategic locations for this growth.
    • outlining the strategic transport and other infrastructure that needs to be provided in the right place and at the right time to support sustainable growth and to provide certainty for our communities and those that want to invest in our area.

Relationship of the Joint Spatial Plan to Local Plans

6. The JSP is a strategic statutory development plan document (DPD) for the West of England. It is being prepared jointly by, and will cover, the four Unitary Authorities of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

7. On adoption as a Development Plan Document it will carry full weight in the planning system and provide the higher level strategic planning policy framework for each authority's new Local Plan for the period 2016 to 2036. Whilst the JSP will not allocate new sites, it does identify new Strategic Development Locations (SDL's), which are shown on the Key Diagram. These will be brought forward as allocations through each authority's new Local Plan. New site specific allocations and policy designations in Local Plans will need to be in conformity with the JSP.

8. The JSP is not a qualifying document for establishing planning permission in principle under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

9. In March 2017 the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) was established. The Combined Authority comprises Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire Councils. The Combined Authority has a Mayor who has devolved powers including strategic planning, and a duty to prepare a Mayoral Spatial Strategy. This duty takes effect from May 2018. The Mayoral Spatial Strategy will relate to the areas covered by the Combined Authority. The Joint Spatial Plan which is being prepared by the four West of England authorities will provide a firm foundation to inform its preparation.

Sustainability Appraisal and Evidence Base

10. The Joint Spatial Plan has been subject to a Sustainability Appraisal as an integral part of its production to help formulate the strategy. A scoping report was published alongside the Issues and Options document in November 2015. An appraisal of the Emerging Spatial Strategy draft plan was published in September 2016. A Sustainability Appraisal for this final draft Joint Spatial Plan has been published alongside the plan.

11. A substantial evidence base has been prepared to support and inform the preparation for this plan. Full details are available at: www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk

12. The Plan has been prepared working closely with key stakeholders including;

    • Government agencies: Homes and Communities Agency, Environment Agency, Natural England, Historic England, Highways England, Network Rail
    • Neighbouring Authorities
    • Public Health
    • Infrastructure Providers, and in
    • In consultation with delivery partners.

13. The JSP Publication Document is the strategic plan that all four councils consider to be the most suitable for sustainable growth in the West of England area. The four councils propose to submit this to the Government to be independently examined by a Planning Inspector. Prior to this residents, businesses, the development sector and other stakeholders can comment on the Plan and make representations on its soundness. A formal consultation on the Plan will run from 22 November to 10 January. These views will be passed on to the independent Planning Inspector who will assess the Plan.