Building a better Bristol: 2,563 new homes

We agree with the sentiment of the petition presented to Full Council last night.

Councillor Nicola Beech, my cabinet lead for strategic planning, resilience, and floods, who spoke on the petition for the Labour Group at Full Council, launched a consultation on the Local Plan in November 2022. We continue to oppose plans to build homes on Brislington Meadows, the Western Slopes, and Yew Tree Farm, and policies out to consultation reflect our position while also including new policies on biodiversity. These sit alongside our plans to plant 16,000 new trees in Bristol this year, adding to the 80,000 trees planted in our city since 2015 (averaging to 10,500 per year), announced during National Tree Week.

The aforementioned sites were allocated for development under the previous administration, following public consultation โ€“ which is how planning policy is set. To influence future policy, far more than signing petitions, it is essential that people respond to share their views before Friday 20 January. More details are available in Nicolaโ€™s blog. Yesterday we launched a consultation on Temple Quarter, where we will work to deliver 10,000 new homes and 22,000 new jobs.

My administration has rightly made building new homes a priority for us, because itโ€™s a priority for our fellow Bristolians. After the disruption of Brexit and the pandemic, last year Bristol built 2,563 new homes โ€“ exceeding our ambitious manifesto targets; 474 of these new homes were affordable โ€“ the most in the 12 years since Labour were last in national government; and 90% of these new homes were built on previously developed land โ€“ again demonstrating our commitment to building new homes in an environmentally responsible way. Another 3,500 new homes were under construction as of 1 April, 2022. This is fantastic news for Bristol as we continue building a city where nobody is left behind.

Our city is just 42 square miles. Our population grew by more than 10% in the decade to 2021, to 472,000, and is set to rise to 550,000 by the middle of this century. 15% of our residents โ€“ some 70,000 people โ€“ live in areas that are among the 10% most deprived in England. 19,000 people are on our housing waiting list. Over 1,000 households are living in temporary accommodation. In this context, we need to continue building in (on brownfield) and up (at higher density). Otherwise we risk being unable to minimise our sometime need to build out (onto land which has not previously been developed). Recently we have been disappointed that many of the councillors which this petition lauds, and some people already sitting comfortably in their own homes, have continued to oppose building new homes for Bristolians on brownfield sites including former car parks, former airfields, former shipyards, former schools, and former depots. Too often the crucial question, โ€œif not there, then where?โ€, goes unanswered by them.

Unfortunately some single-issue campaigns often fall short of engaging with our city in the fullness of the reality of life here. We face a housing crisis, at the same time as ecological and climate emergencies, the national cost of living crisis, recovering from the pandemic, and other major pressures. There is no magic button to turn off any of these to focus on a favourite โ€“ they must all be considered and tackled at once. This is why we have prioritised an approach which delivers social and environmental justice hand-in-hand, using the UNโ€™s interdependent Sustainable Development Goals as our framework. And we continue to shape global policy through Global Goals Week, COP27, and my TED Talk on cities and the climate crisis. You may be among the more than 1.5 million people who have watched the latter.

We are determined to start 2023 by continuing to deliver on what matters to Bristolians. My administration remains focused on carrying on tackling our cityโ€™s challenges and getting stuff done to give Bristol the best possible future. For more on our vision for our city, with new jobs, new homes, clean energy, new schools, and mass transit, watch Bristol 2032.