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Tuesday
Oct022012

Residents Success on Fight Against Travellers Sites

On the BANES travellers sites search, the Liberal Democrat leadership caved in to pressure from residents and decided not to continue with “consultation” on three of their “preferred sites”. The quarry at Stanton Wick, the Elmbridge House Nursery site at Keynsham and the Radstock former School Canteen were all abandoned as part of the search and residents were finally released from their torment over the summer. It was a shock that the Whitchurch site was retained despite mistakes being made on its status being considered “brownfield” and not “greenbelt”. The fight by residents goes on.  

27 new raw and un-assessed sites have now emerged as new options, many of which are in the greenbelt and are described as “unavailable”. Of major concern to Bathavon North residents is the selection of the whole of the historic WW2 airfield Charmydown. Planning approval for a travellers site has been refused in the past but it’s never the less on the list. Local residents and Parish Councils should not be complacent on its selection.

Charmydown WW2 Airfield Site

My concern is not the fact the Leadership is trying to deliver on Travellers sites, it’s the protracted adhoc process which is at issue. Its causing misery and costing Council Tax Payers dearly. It could have been better and more effectively organised from the start if the leadership would have not been in such a rush!

Thursday
Aug302012

BANES Planning Policy Restricting Business Development in Rural Areas Overturned

An important precedent was made yesterday when BANES Development Control Committee unanimously agreed to allow a Physiotherapist to run her Practice from her parents’ home in a rural setting.  

Council Officers recommended refusal on the grounds that the business would create additional car journeys in a rural area. It further suggested that the Business Practice was not near enough to public transport, citing BANES Local Planning Policy T1. It suggested that it’s overarching responsibility was to reduce car use in rural areas and therefore development on transport corridors had to be the only way forward. In my submission on behalf of the Applicant I demonstrated that the business would not have been viable in costly premises and that 60% of new businesses start at home in order to reduce the initial business cost burden.

I was also able to highlight that the National Planning Policy Framework, introduced by the Government in March has been ignored by the Officers making their refusal recommendation. It states that rural businesses should be encouraged and refusal on transport ground can only be made “where residual cumulative impacts are severe”. BANES Officers ignored the new Planning Policy in favour of its own inspirational utopian notion of restricting car use and sustainability and getting people to use non-existent public transport in rural areas.

Let’s hope no other rural entrepreneurs fall foul of BANES Planning Policies, some of which are clearly interpreted in such a way that they hamper the rural economy.

For details on the T1 policy refer to page 204 of the Local Plan.

Thursday
Aug302012

Travellers Sites Saga Goes On

Our LibDem colleagues remain keen to press on with their ad-hoc search for suitable Travellers sites. I say ad-hoc because the plan is evolving week by week and month by month. Considerable resources, time and Council Tax payers money is going into the search. The Planning Department is extremely challenged at the moment bringing in expertise and costly consultants to deal with this and many other LibDem Leadership initiatives.

The legal requirement on the Council is to identify sites but it does not have to provide them, although £1.8M has been put aside in this year’s budget for this Traveller site initiative. The BANES area is a challenging area to find sites as much of it is Green Belt. Even the “tolerated” site on the Lower Bristol Road is in the Green Belt. New Government Guidance on Travellers Sites issued in March (after this Travellers initiative started) is clear about protecting Green Belt land.

A judicial review on the Stanton Wick, Keynsham and Radstock sites is likely if these are not withdrawn from the search. The other site at Whitchurch could go the same way if it is not withdrawn! (BANES do not have a good record on winning such reviews, its latest failure being the Wooley Valley chicken hut affair).

Stanton Wick Keynsham

 

 

 

27 new potential sites have now been proposed, many of which are in the Green Belt. They are completely unevaluated as to their potential other than “available or not”. These will no doubt exercise Parish Councils and residents.

I have said all along:

  • We must have a new needs assessment, the last one was done in 2007! The very nature of travelling has changed. In our area many travellers live on canal boats and the river and in tents in waste land.
  • We must protect the Green Belt, Travellers cannot be isolated from the public health, medical and educational support and economic activity they need.
  • We must liaise with our neighbouring Authorities and see what provision they have made.
  • We must adhere to new Government Guidance issued in March.
  • We need a clear project plan.
Monday
Jul232012

A Busy Few Weeks

I have a busy few weeks ahead with committee and full council meetings along with supporting business events across the UK:

Tuesday
Jul102012

‘Last chance’ to give views on traveller sites

This week is the last opportunity for residents to submit their comments on the proposed plans of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s to earmark six locations as authorised traveller sites.  I am therefore urging any resident affected by these plans to make their views known and ensure their concerns are listened to.  This consultation period will end on Wednesday 18th July so it is essential that all comments be received before this date.

Several of the sites currently proposed have provoked major opposition from local residents, but so far the Liberal Democrat Cabinet has been seen to completely ignore their views.  In fact at a recent Special Meeting of the Council, Conservative councillors tabled a motion calling on the Council to halt its current plans and go back to the drawing board to find a more suitable list of sites.  However, this move was defeated after Labour councillors joined with ruling Liberal Democrats and voted to push ahead with the current plans.

The closing of this consultation gives the Council one last chance to listen to the concerns raised, remove the sites, which are clearly unsuitable, and come up with a more appropriate list of sites.  I hope that this is what the Council decides to do, before further damage is done.

I am calling on all residents in Bath and North East Somerset to send in their comments on the proposals to ensure the Council listens to the views of local residents.

Comments can be submitted via the Council’s website at www.bathnes.gov.uk/planningfortravellers.