Have your say on updating Bristol’s Local Plan

Cllr Nicola Beech stands, smiling, with a blurred background of trees and houses behind her.
Today’s blog is by Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Resilience and Floods, and a Labour Councillor for St George Central ward

The overarching plan that maps out how Bristol will develop over the next 20 years will be reviewed this winter. The Bristol Local Plan is a guide for the delivery of a very wide range of development in the city. It is especially relevant as a pointer to where new homes and future jobs, as well as health and energy infrastructure, would best be located.

A regional spatial development strategy is the document which local authorities often refer to when planning and preparing for new homes and jobs in the future. However, work recently stopped on the regional West of England Spatial Development Strategy (or SDS) and is not being progressed by the Combined Authority. Because of this we have decided to revise our local plan along a similar timeline as our neighbours in South Gloucestershire and in Bath & North East Somerset beginning later this year.

We will be working together closely with our neighbours on our local plans to make sure they harmonise with each other and fit together seamlessly. Many rapidly growing cities when faced with the challenge of where to build decide to spread outwards, which can lead to the destruction of their nearby greenbelt land and fragile local ecology.

So how do we decide where to put our children’s and our grandchildren’s homes and workplaces? How can we provide for ourselves and future generations yet still build sustainably for Bristol?

Well to start with we could build affordable homes close to where there are jobs, shops and sustainable travel routes. This means that Bristol’s answer to these questions will likely mean building more densely and this will sometimes mean taller buildings. But if we are to reduce car dependence and help people to create communities near to the places citizens want to be for work, as well as to spend their leisure time and rest, then building densely is surely the only way to achieve this. We have little choice but to build sustainably upwards on available brownfield land close to the rich culture and entertainment hubs of our city centre.

Our revised Bristol Local Plan will set out new policies for a sustainable future. This means the new plan will promote the most sustainable forms of heat and power. It must not just consider the carbon emissions associated with each new development but the carbon emitted during construction and manufacture, also known as ‘embodied carbon’. We also intend to revise our plan so that it will support new health infrastructure close to new planned developments. This means considering the future health needs of our growing city at the same time as other considerations.

We intend to restart the review of the latest version of the Bristol Local Plan in November this year. We’ll need your views first during a phase of consultation and engagement. Once this is complete we expect to potentially have a refreshed local plan in place by early Autumn 2024.

The estimated timescale to get to our new local plan is as follows:

• November 2022 – further consultation on the plan’s policies and proposals

• Summer 2023 – plan published for representations

• Early 2024 – examination by planning inspector

• Autumn 2024 – new local plan adopted

Please do take the time to contribute and have your say on what is one of the most crucial issues for Bristol’s future. As one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, Bristol needs to rapidly embrace new jobs and homes in the right places to protect our fragile environment.