In a column for The Journal, Council Leader Kevin Guy explains the Local Plan consultation: Across Bath and North East Somerset, whether that’s in our towns, villages, rural areas or the city, we need new, affordable homes and good quality jobs. However, they need to be in the right places, addressing the climate and ecological emergencies and making sure there is the right transport infrastructure in place.

Getting this right is the job of the Local Plan.

Adopting a Local Plan is a lengthy process. Earlier this month we began a consultation (which lasts until April 8th) on options for development, including for an estimated 14,500 new homes needed up to 2042. Of those, more than 6,000 will be built on sites, mainly brownfield sites in Bath, that are already committed for development via planning permission or allocated in the current Local Plan.

The issues raised in all comments and feedback will be considered and a Draft Local Plan will be subject to further consultation this year. This is then examined by an independent planning inspector. If approved by the inspector, a new Local Plan would be adopted by the council early next year. This will then determine planning applications until 2042.

The consultation document itself is clearly set out - including specific chapters focusing on the Somer Valley, and on our rural areas, including the Chew Valley. Of course, people can respond online but people can also access printed copies at Bath Central Library; Keynsham Library; Midsomer Norton Library; Bath Housing, Welfare and Advice Services, the mobile library and all community libraries.

Videos will be added to the Council website giving step-by-step guidance on what a local plan is and how to comment, as well as outlining how the various options will help to deliver the Council’s priorities on housing, the climate emergency and sustainable transport.

We have also organised ‘drop-in events’ across our area so you can go along and talk to our planning officers and have your say at this options stage. These are all from 3pm to 7pm at Trinity Church, Radstock, 26th February; Saltford Hall, 29th February; The Hive, Peasedown St John, 1st March; Bath Cricket Club, 4th March; Whitchurch United Reform Church, 6th March and Farrington Gurney Village Hall, 13th March.

We are very keen to hear your views.

Staying with the theme of development, I am pleased to say that the proposals for the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone have now been agreed. This is a transformational project for the Somer Valley economy, helping to provide up to 1,300 quality, local jobs, reducing the need to commute, whilst ensuring environmental impacts are managed through provision of public transport, strong biodiversity measures and active travel routes. We’re currently progressing the Midsomer Norton & Westfield Walking, Wheeling & Cycling Links (WWCL) project, working with the West of England Combined Authority. It aims to provide safer and more connected cycling routes, to reduce traffic and improve air quality and increase community connections. Please keep an eye out for updates on this.You can watch all of these meetings on the Council’s YouTube channel.