Paul May – Ward Councillor
I represent Pensford as well as Whitchurch Village.
As you know this community is a conservation village that is split in half by the A37 and has significant parking issues.
Because the village is within and washed over by the greenbelt its Neighbourhood Plan identified it could consider some development re the need for low cost housing subject to the need being confirmed.
The Parish have struggled to find a suitable location within the development area or outside but could/would be happy to discuss a small increase in an appropriate location and with a design that fits the conservation village style?
It would however need to be very firm that due to the current parking problems seek higher numbers than the current local plan allows for. We appreciate this may be contrary to current thinking but as the village has been so constrained for a long time it would need an exception policy I appreciate that the number of properties may be very low and location very sensitive but purely low cost housing for local use would be starting point for consideration.
Other Comments from Councillors
I agree that the Parish has struggled to find a suitable location for Affordable Housing. The shortage of available sites may not be possible to resolve but, if a suitable plot could be found, (which I would assume would mean Pensford, as opposed to our smaller villages) we would be willing to discuss a small development, with a specification in accordance with the Housing and Development Policy 2 and 3 in our Neighbourhood Plan 2016-2035.
The Parish must stress the problem of car parking, particularly in Pensford. It looks as though Bath & North East Somerset council is updating or changing its parking standards. Our Neighbourhood Plan is clear on and stresses the need for new developments in the Parish to provide adequate off-road parking. There is already a serious lack of public car parking facilities particularly within the Pensford village centre, which leads large numbers of residents to park their cars on the narrow roads. Large vehicles such as emergency services, gritting, waste and recycling have been blocked from passing through High Street & Church Street because of the large number of parked cars.
It must be stressed that cars are an essential means of transport for Parishioners and they have to be parked on or near to people’s homes. People have to travel. All our villages suffer from poor or non-existent public transport. We have only an hourly bus service into Bristol to Street and there is no public transport to local centres such as Bath, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton or Bristol airport. People living here need to get to work or the shops.
Cycling to any of the local centres is limited to the youngest and fittest due the distances and hilly terrain.
Assuming there will be no substantial improvement in our local public transport standards, in considering any new building in the villages it is therefore critical to plan for the likely occupants to have adequate off-road parking space for a minimum of one car per family. In reality, most families need to run more than one car. There is no point in encouraging more people to come to the Parish to live, if they cannot get around or if we cannot accommodate their cars.
It is also worth noting the difficulty that has been encountered in disposing of the Pensford Garage development.