email mark@rosher.net

The WECA JSP and Charfield

If the title mystified you, don’t worry, just move along. 🙂

Not a blog post as much as a public copy of some correspondence between me and my MP.


Dear Luke

I have seen a copy of the letter you recently sent to Tim Bowles, chair of WECA, regarding his election promise as to development in rural areas, specifically Buckover. While I appreciate you have focused specifically on Buckover, Charfield too is in your constituency. Would you please tell me if you intend to include the 1200 proposed houses identified for our village in the JSP in your discussions with WECA chair and members?

The overdevelopment of Charfield, whether it comes with additional school provision or recreational facilities or shops or even employment (highly unlikely), will cause intolerable traffic congestion in the area, including onto the A38 where Buckover is proposed. Charfield’s narrow main road and twisting country lanes are a daily feeder for vehicles from Gloucestershire seeking access to and from the A38 and the M5 – which we know to be overloaded to the point of being deemed not fit for purpose. The vehicles from another 1200 homes (maybe 2500 cars) will pour onto the M5 and A38 adding to those from a permitted Buckover (6000 cars?) bringing the entire area to a standstill.

I fully agree that there is a housing shortage, and that many local people cannot afford to buy because of it. Nevertheless, an already failing infrastructure for which scant and wholly inadequate improvements are planned cannot make for a sustainable increase in housing. Sustainability and Localism are empty words if they can be so easily set aside. So I ask, will you include Charfield when you oppose the development of Buckover?

I’m writing in a personal capacity here, but will copy the Charfield Parish Clerk in for completeness.

Mark Rosher


Morning Mark,

I hope that you are well, I do apologise for the very slight delay in getting back to you.

Firstly, as you will know from my campaigns, survey and speeches in the House of Commons I fully agree with you and the village on the points you make, and my opinion and stance on the entirety of the Joint Spatial Plan, including the new allocation for Charfield, has not changed. I remain concerned and very disappointed with the West of England’s and South Gloucestershire’s Councils decision to press on with the allocations particularly more so with the lack of suitable infrastructure to support the amount of Housing. I am also too very aware that there have been speculative applications already in the village, with some with the Inspectorate, which I will of course lodge my objection too also.

In meetings locally, speeches, debates and meetings with Ministers I have raised all three locations including Charfield and have been clear that I believe the process and technical arguments are flawed, which is why I have urged for a pause in the process which brings me to my letter to Mayor Bowles.

In regards to the letter I sent to Mayor Tim Bowles, you will see that I have mentioned and referred to all of our proposed allocations in urging him to stand alongside me on this issue now that he has been elected. I am firm believer that whatever party or colour an elected representative is from, especially with a representative from my own part, that a promise is a promise and it must be fulfilled. This is why, as I promised, I am continuing to to fight these plans are every opportunity.

The emphasis I placed on Buckover in my letter was mainly due to the  way in which Mayor Bowles was explicit in saying that he would see Buckover removed from the Joint Spatial Plan but I hope you will understand that in urging for the process to be paused this would give us more time to fight the entire process, Charfield included.

I have attached a bulletin which I have sent via email to residents on the next steps. As you will know I have also organised to meet with Fighting for Charfield members this Friday to discuss the latest, and how in the next stages we can work more closer together than ever before.

I hope this reassures you that I have and will continue to fight our corner on this.

With very best wishes,

Luke

Luke Hall MP
Member of Parliament for Thornbury, Yate and the surrounding villages

House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA
0207 219 4741

Luke.hall.mp@parliament.uk
www.lukehall.org.uk
www.facebook.com/LukeHallThornburyandYate

Dear neighbours,

I am writing to you all to share my great disappointment I felt at hearing the news this week that despite our huge community campaign in opposing South Gloucestershire Council’s proposals to see 1,000 allocated to Charfield village, that the Council and the West of England have confirmed that they intend to press on with the plans as part of the future regional housing plans.

However I am also writing you to say to you clearly and unequivocally that this is very much not the end of the road for our campaign – and that I still need your support to carry on fighting these ill thought out plans.

As you will be aware, as our MP I have never shirked from taking up the fight against these plans when they were revealed to us in 2015. It has been a long, and at times a frustrating two year battle for us all. However together we have;

-Brought attention to our opposition against the plans to the highest levels of Government in parliamentary debates and in meetings with the Housing Ministers.
-Submitted our petition against the developments to South Gloucestershire Council with thousands of your signatures.
-With the help of my MP’s survey, and the time you have taken to respond –demonstrated that an overwhelming 90% of our community oppose these plans.

In the following stages of the Joint Spatial Plan I will be working alongside our local campaign groups such as Fighting for Charfield in standing up and continuing to make the case for a sustainable development plan for our area.

The next stages for the Joint Spatial Plan are as follows;

-On the 8th of November, the full Council will vote on launching the last round of consultation on the plan.
-The public consultation will be held from November until January 2018
-Following the consultation the Plan will be sent to the Secretary of State who will appoint an independent inspector to examine the technical arguments within it.
-The Inspector will conduct an ‘Examination in Public’ early in 2018.

So the fight for sustainable development will continue, in the consultation, in Parliament, in the governments public examination hearings, and if it needs it, in the Secretary of State’s office, because as our MP and as someone who has lived locally all of my life, I know just how important it is for the future of our community to get this right.

In the meantime I would urge everyone who wishes to actively join myself and Fighting for Charfield in the months ahead to please get in touch at either luke.hall.mp@parliament.uk or directly with Fighting for Charfield at fightingforcharfield@gmail.com.

With very best wishes,

Luke

1 Comment
  1. Keeping everything in the same place my email to Tim Bowles, Chairman of WECA, prior to the vote whether to move to consultation on the draft JSP:

    Dear Tim

    I accept there is a housing shortage but new homes must be built sustainably. Although we in Charfield are on the very fringe of the northern edge of the WECA area, that significant condition still applies. The JSP in its current draft identifies Charfield as a Sustainable Development Location and proposes an additional 1200 homes to those already being built now, more than doubling the size of the village over the period of the JSP. At the same time, although there are improvements identified such as additional primary school places and the potential reopening of the railway station closed in 1965, there is no feasible plan to improve the narrow country lanes that form a commuter throughway from Gloucestershire to the M5. The M5 itself has been identified as not fit for purpose at Junction 14 and, as you well know, the local stretch of motorway has seen an increasing number of increasingly serious accidents, certainly in part due to the congested nature of the national as well as the local road network.

    I do not believe the residents of Charfield are against all home developments, indeed there seems a shortage of starter and retirement homes in the village. Nevertheless, outcries of unsustainable development are often met with counter cries of NIMBYism, and this deflects from the real issues involved here. Charfield is a dormitory village with almost no local employment, shopping or health facilities. Residents have to leave the country to see a doctor or dentist, and even our children travel to Gloucestershire for their nearest secondary school. If the reopening of the railway station ever was to happen, it is likely more people would drive from Gloucestershire into Charfield village to use the station than would walk to it from their Charfield homes. We really do foresee a total blight on our community and worse, that new homes may become unsaleable once evidence is revealed of the congestion awaiting any new resident embarking on their work journey into Bristol or Gloucester.

    Charfield is certainly NOT a Sustainable Development Location. As such I urge you not to move to consultation with the current draft JSP, but look again at how city brownfield and peripheral green belt land might be first called into use, since this is where the transport infrastructure including the new Metro exist.

    Regards
    Mark Rosher
    in a personal capacity

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