The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
Secretary of State
Ministry for Communities & Local Government
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF 14 September, 2020
As you will recall, I wrote to you most recently on 20/7/20 in support of a letter from Lucy Shomali, Director of Environment at North Somerset Council, in relation to their queries about their new housing targets. Both John Penrose and I have written many times to the DCLG over the last few years and have had meetings with your predecessors. As you know, there has been a lot of disquiet about the algorithm that is being utilised by your Department to alter housing targets.
I have been very interested in the work done by our colleague, Neil O’Brien, who has done a terrific analysis of how the changes might impact in different parts of the country. In the case of North Somerset, I simply cannot understand why a target that has historically never been made and which I believe remains inappropriate. Has now been increased under the current planned formula. Not only do we have pressure on our existing Green Belt, and a substantial Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but a proportion of land that can be built upon is on flood plain in the part of the Somerset Levels that lies north of the Mendip Hills.
I would, therefore, hope that this can be reviewed, so that my many constituents who want to see more housing, but in line with our natural environment and its limitations, can feel reassured.
I would also ask that you look at the land banks that are already earmarked for development but where only a fraction have had any building commenced. Surely, we should be doing more to insist that developers build out their current permissions before seeking to build on new sites. If this does not happen, then we face a future where fast amounts of housing can be built without considering the on-going local circumstances.