Re-printed here with permission of Wotton Town Council, their submitted response to the WoE Joint Spatial Strategy and Joint Transport Study:
Wotton Town Council
Regarding the consultation of the Joint Spatial Strategy and Joint Transport Plan for South Gloucestershire, Wotton-under-Edge Town Council discussed the effect of increased housing numbers on its already stretched infrastructure. The proposals to double the size of the village of Charfield – which is a couple of miles south of Wotton-under-Edge – are a serious concern unless it is combined with large scale infrastructure investment.
The comments are as follows:
- Wotton-under-Edge is the nearest and main service centre for Charfield and surrounding villages. Despite being just over the county boundary and on the northern tip of South Gloucestershire, residents of Charfield and environs rely heavily upon the local facilities provided by doctors, dentist, schools, and other commercial facilities.
- Wotton-under Edge has been defined as a local service centre in the Stroud District Local Plan 2015 – however the same plan acknowledges that Wotton faces severe transport issues to the extent that no new local housing developments are allowed unless two car spaces are now allowed as opposed to the national guideline of 1 per dwelling.
- The Stroud District Car Parking Survey of 2011 states that Wotton is in need of more car parking. This is also backed up by a Town Council random survey of car parking undertaken in October 2016. The roads in Wotton are regularly choked with traffic – this is not helped by a largely unchanged medieval central street system which (although pretty) was designed for the horse and cart and not modern large vehicles.
- There is a concern that this Joint Spatial Strategy is pushing the requirement for development into the northern reaches of South Gloucestershire county and other northern areas under review, and consequently pushing the problem into the hands of other county councils to sort out! However the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (NPPF) under its Core Planning Policy Principle 31, regarding promoting sustainable transport, states that:
“Local authorities should work with neighbouring authorities and transport providers to develop strategies for the provision of viable infrastructure necessary to support sustainable development, including large scale facilities such as rail freight interchanges, roadside facilities for motorists or transport investment necessary to support strategies for growth”
Gloucestershire County Council has already identified Charfield Railway Station as a viable method to alleviate local transport problems. This Town Council strongly feels that this issue needs to be addressed before any future housing growth is considered in the area of Charfield & environs. The provision of roadside facilities for motorists in Wotton should also be part of the JSS consideration since unsustainable pressure would be brought to bear upon parking facilities and access routes into and through Wotton-under-Edge which is the local town and main service centre.
- The NPPF also requires development to be sustainable. Core Principle 37 states that:
“Planning policies should aim for a balance of land uses within their area so that people can be encouraged to minimise journey lengths for employment.”
- Charfield is a rural village with minimal employment. Wotton also provides minimal employment. Most residents travel over 15 miles north or south along the M5 corridor towards Gloucester or Bristol and thus the principle of sustainable development minimising travel to employment would not be met. (Unless Charfield railway station can be reopened – to provide sustainable transport). The pressure also on Junction 14 of the M5 from this development proposal – coupled with the proposal of a further ‘mini town’ at Buckover on the northern fringes of Thornbury – would lead to unsustainable levels of car use reliant upon a single motorway junction which is currently unable to cope at rush hour.