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Are we all singing from the same hymn book? Nailsea Town Council has a vision for our community which is about to welcome thousands of new inhabitants. Read about it HERE and have your say at a public meeting on Friday, October 12, at 8pm at Scotch Horn Centre
A vision for Nailsea
PLANNING PEOPLE: From top clockwise chairman David Packham, Neil Middleton and standing Lucy White; Ian Harvey poised to ask about planning validity of the 'vision' requested by North Somerset Council, audience for the evening and areas under threat highlighted in yellow on the projected screen at Scotch Horn Centre on Friday, October 13, 2018 ©
There was only one certainty coming out of the Nailsea Town Council public meeting on Friday and that is Nailsea is going to get nearly 4,000 new homes in the next two decades whether it likes it or not.
That is a government- imposed fait accompli which just leaves the nuts and bolts of the accompaniments to discuss/debate and/or consult – type of homes, exactly where they are going, new roads, schools, shops and jobs.
‘New Town’ Nailsea of the 1970s-early 1990s when bored teenagers with nothing much to do has sadly metaphorized into ‘Old Town’ Nailsea dominated by senior citizens and sheltered housing complexes.
For 90 minutes the hardly souls who braved the wind and rain talked about the future and how to maintain community cohesion.
It falls to North Somerset Council to prepare a Local Plan for the period 2018-2036 which will set out detailed policies and allocations to deliver a new planning policy framework.
As part of this process and to generate feedback the town council was asked to produce a ‘vision’ for the town.
But the vision which has no legal standing in planning law and has been dubbed either ‘aspirational’ or ‘fairyland’ depending on what side of the Nimby fence you are standing.
Some also said it lacked any ‘joined up thinking’.
Fears were voiced about a lack of faith in a district council which gave itself planning permission to build houses on its own land at The Uplands that many believe had ‘open space’ status.
Residents also reflected on its decision to put speed bumps along Station Road which is resulting in juggernauts seeking alternative routes creating rat runs through rural areas – an example of failing to see wider implications.
Infrastructure before development was like a chicken and egg dilemma but a suggestion from the floor to go back to Roman times when roads were built first in a straight line and a community built at the end was one solution put forward.
Probably the most controversial part of the council ‘vision’ is a proposal to move the Green Belt which currently protects countryside to the north of the town (and includes the ruins of a Roman villa), building a new road linking the industrial estates to the B3130 and bringing the Metro bus to Nailsea.
Ideally it would have been better to move the trading estates but the complexities of multiple ownerships and using compulsory purchase orders wasn’t in the remit of a town council and concerns if companies were asked to relocate to another site they might end up leaving Nailsea all together and taking vital jobs with them, the meeting was told.
Fewer than 100 people were at the Scotch Horn Centre with some taking to social media afterwards to blame non-attendance on lack of pre-publicity, the weather and/or the choice of night/time.
But the meeting had been widely flagged-up on various Facebook pages, advertised on two widely read door-to-door publications and councillors had manned a stall at the monthly farmers’ market to tell people all about it.
The most important part of the evening centred around providing ‘affordable’ homes for young people and a revolutionary suggestion by one of the few persons in the room aged under 30 that for the vision to become truly inspirational it should include making the town energy self-sufficient with superfast broadband available to every home.
The Uplands newcomer who moved from Bristol a year ago said: "Aim for the stars, look to make Nailsea energy independent by using modern technologies - biomass, solar, wind."
Broom Farm Close resident Mike Stone said: “I have lived in Nailsea for 45 years and my children have grown up in the town and I now have grandchildren in North Somerset as well.
“The biggest thing is affordable housing – this is an ageing town and a lot of us here won’t be here in 30-40 years time.
“I am surprised there aren’t more youngsters here tonight – this and the infrastructure are the two big things.”
Windfarms and a sports village were also mentioned along with worries about the delicate ecology of the flood plains earmarked for development.
At the top table presenting the evening sat Nailsea Town Council chairman David Packham, finance chairman Neil Middleton and chartered town planner Lucy White who has been appointed by councillors to guide them through the process.
New town clerk Jo Duffy who takes up the post in December was also present.
There were calls to support the town centre shops and to reintroduce adult education classes.
Mr Packham said: “I know we are all guilty of online shopping, but we need to support our town centre stores and one of the benefits of more people coming into the town is more customers for our shops.”
With development comes cash windfalls and Nailsea Town Council is hoping homes at Engine Lane on part council-owned land will go ahead next year if issues with National Grid can be resolved.
All new homes pay a 15 per cent local levy which would allow the town council to fulfil some of its ‘vision’ while not taking over roles which come within the remit of a unitary authority like cutting grass verges, the meeting was told.
Mr Packham said: “Town councils can if necessary now borrow money if a good business plan can be made.”
But Mr Middleton added a note of caution saying ‘running costs’ have to be considered when spending capital receipts.
Its town centre base at 65 High Street, which was bought with ‘borrowed money’, is being developed as a ‘health and well-being’ centre under the auspices of retired town clerk Ian Morrell.
The list of improvements for GWR including the long promised disabled access on the down line and an extended platform at Nailsea & Backwell railway station are a necessity to get more using public transport, those present learned.
Mr Packham said his council was ‘fighting very hard against any link between the M5 and A370 Long Ashton bypass’ which would be 'a bridge across a flood plain'.
Asking people to write to the council with feedback was given as an example of being out-of-touch with youngsters who use their phones for all communications, added one speaker.
Mr Packham said he thought it was possible to use its contact form at https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/contact/.
North Somerset Council is preparing a new Local Plan for the period 2018-2036 which will set out detailed policies and allocations to deliver a new planning policy framework.
As part of this process the town council has produced an outline Vision For Nailsea, looking to the next 20 years, to generate feedback and debate.
Highlights of the proposed Vision For Nailsea:
A fully planned expanded town that is a place where people wish to live, is easy to access, offers a wide range of activities and where there is a strong community spirit
Carefully designed housing developments to a masterplan: new housing built around the town and not to one side
Review green belt boundaries as an integral part of a masterplan for the development of the town
A thriving town centre where residents will want to live, meet and socialize as well as shop
Refurbish existing town, ie. resurface pathways; refurbish existing play areas; replace paving in and around centre; create feature entrances to the town at the main points of entry; improve Millennium Park
Provide for a major new community building to include the library, to act as a catalyst for further enhancement of the town centre and to encourage investment
A new road to the north of the town connecting the B3130 from Bristol (Wraxall road) to the B3130 to Clevedon (Tickenham road) and continuing on to connect up to the B3128/B3130 junction (Tickenham Hill road)
A range of leisure activities for all tastes: a new sports centre with indoor and outdoor facilities and all-weather pitches, possibly to include a swimming pool
A town with safe access throughout for pedestrians and cyclists: identify principle pedestrian routes throughout the town and introduce wayfinder signage and seating
Enhance employment areas
Effective and responsive public transport throughout the town: efficient and readily accessible public transport for commuters
Investing in existing car parks and ensuring they are managed effectively
Bring metrobus into Nailsea from Bristol via a modernised railway station
Identify the need for additional primary and secondary schools as growth occurs and support adult education where sufficient need exists
The town council wants to hear from as many people as possible who live, work or go to school in Nailsea.
Please message the council on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The four-page document is available to download HERE and hard copies are available at the Tithe Barn, 65 High Street and the Library.
Friday, October 12 Scotch Horn Centre starting at 8pm
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