TRAPP'D Virtual Town Meeting
Thornbury Residents Against Poorly Planned Development are hosting an online meeting.
"Our last public meeting was back on 24th November 2017 when we filled the Armstrong Hall with an event which Aaron Sims covered in a live blog for the Gazette that reached over 2,000 viewers. On this occasion we have decided to run it as a virtual online meeting only, for reasons of public safety. The meeting is timed to coincide with the most critical phase of the planning cycle with Local Authorities within the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) engaged in internal discussions, behind closed doors, to finalise the proposed Spatial Development Strategy (SDS). This is due to be published in Spring 2022 ahead of a 12 week consultation phase. As a reminder, the SDS is the successor to the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) that was thrown out by Government Planning Inspectors in 2019 on the basis that it was just a list of major development sites, rather than a cogent spatial strategy, and so the process is now set to recommence. We are right now at the point where Local Authorities will almost certainly be engaged in intensive discussion about the allocation of the region’s target housing numbers to each of the Local Authorities, so this is the most important moment to exert maximum political pressure through public opinion and press coverage.
The public meeting will begin with a launch of our short film about the case for saving Buckover from the bulldozers, which has been narrated by Miranda Krestovnikoff and funded entirely by public donations. We will then have a short presentation from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) about the permutations and options for WECA and South Glos Council (SGC) in terms of the housing numbers, followed by a review of our assessment of what went wrong in the JSP and what lessons should have been learned for the new plan. In this analysis we will be unveiling the results of our Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which reveals the inside story of what South Glos Planners really thought about the JSP and how our Local Authority came to be the ‘fall guy’ for WECA. This FOI has been long fought over, and the subject of numerous appeals over several years, finally resulting in the Information Commissioner’s Office forcing SGC to comply with our request, which they eventually did on 17th November 2021. We think you will find this sheds surprising new light on the rather secretive planning process with important lessons for the future. We will then end the evening with a Q&A session to which we have invited local political leaders to join us to answer questions. At the time of writing Toby Savage has accepted our invitation and we are awaiting responses from others."