A big conversation is happening around Bristol that could shape local housing and transport for decades to come.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been working with colleagues to get ready for a major consultation which could map where thousands of new homes are built across the West of England over the next 20 years.
The phrase ‘West of England Joint Spatial Plan and Transport Study‘ won’t set pulses racing. But the issues it covers should interest anyone who has views about where they live, how they get to work or school or whether they will be able to keep a roof over the heads in future.
Unless you are very wealthy or don’t need to travel, these issues affect virtually everyone who lives and works in the West of England (which includes neighbouring authorities of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire). The project website contains plenty of information around these points. For me, the key facts that the consultation is aiming to address are:
#1. We’ve got a housing shortage and a big affordability problem: The area’s four local authorities believe they need 85,000 new homes by 2036 just to stand still, with 88,000 new jobs predicted in that time too. Some believe more than 85,000 homes are needed, and others who are concerned about over-development will disagree. Meanwhile, house prices continue to rise and each day brings another report about the extent of the crisis. The core message that ‘we need more homes’, whatever the eventual number, is an important acknowledgement.
#2. New homes should be in the right place: This is what the consultation is about. There are many potential options sketched out for people to consider over the coming weeks, as the map below sets out. I expect this to generate plenty of feedback from the public and local media who were briefed on the process last week. Whatever the viewpoints, the more people who give their opinions over where they think the new homes should go, the better.
#3. Transport and infrastructure are a crucial part of the mix: These are seen as key aspects to creating well connected communities. The consultation will look to build on the hundreds of millions of pounds invested in local transport by seeking people’s views on how this could be done in the future.
If you care about how housing and transport can be planned for in a way that has a positive impact on local communities, I hope you take part in the conversation between now and the end of January. Here’s some information about how you can find out more and join in.
Join the conversation on Twitter, and use the #WEbuildourfuture hashtag
Fill in the surveys for housing and transport (you’ll need to register to do this. The housing survey specifically relates to the issues outlined in the consultation material, so do spend 10 mins reading it beforehand)
Email your thoughts to the consultation team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please spare some time to check this out over the coming weeks, tell your friends and get people to join the conversation. Because while the process doesn’t set the heart racing, doing nothing about this isn’t too sexy either.