Exciting, ambitious & achievable? Bristol Council consults on its Local Plan Review

Britain is experiencing a housing crisis and Bristol, like many other local authorities, is no different in finding itself pressured to deliver ever greater numbers of new homes and better services to cope with a rising population. To this end, Bristol City Council has this week released the latest draft of its Local Plan which aims to guide development in the area up to the year 2036. The document, weighing in at a considerable 162 pages, covers a huge range of topics from the economy, climate change and sustainability, transport, housing and health. Anticipating the challenges of the future as well as tackling those of the present is a difficult task, so what does the Local Plan propose? Well, MPC has read the document so you don’t have to.

The current West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), which is designed to support growth in the region to help meet future housing and transport needs, aims to ensure that 33,500 new homes are built in Bristol up to 2036. However, the draft Local Plan considers this to be a minimum target and instead aims to see more than 33,500  homes delivered over the JSP period. These extra homes will only be delivered when there is sufficient supporting infrastructure and services. As is well known in the development industry, the provision of supporting infrastructure is often cited by local communities as a necessity alongside any additional housing during almost all pre-application public consultation exercises.

Mayor Marvin Rees has certainly attracted attention in the past for his ambition to build a mass transit system in the city, something that is outlined again in the draft Local Plan. This and the planned overhaul of the post-war road network in and around Cumberland Basin (to be renamed Western Harbour when the plan is allocated) are some of the most notable transport objectives in the document.

Bristol City Council has certainly been open minded when it comes to new ways to encourage more homes to be built. An interesting element of council policy is a plan to fast-track applications to deliver a specified level of affordable homes. Initially trialled as part of a pilot scheme, the Local Plan review document highlights that if an application contains at least 20% affordable housing in the Inner West and Inner East zones of the city, it will not be subject to viability testing. However, in addition to delivering 20% affordable homes, the applicant must also agree to commence development within 18 months of permission being granted. The Local Plan also allocates areas for development across the city, with some parts of Bristol receiving greater attention for an intensification of development, such as Lawrence Hill and St Philips Marsh.

Bristol’s Local Plan review certainly sets out an ambitious plan to help guide development within the authority, and assist the Labour administration in delivering some of its key policy pledges at the last election. Local communities and developers alike will certainly be watching on with interest as the current consultation progresses. To find out more about the emerging Local Plan or how it may affect development in Bristol, please feel free to get in touch via email western@mpc.email.

Matthew Roberts- Account Executive