Saturday, January 26, 2008

Yeovil to grow 60% by 2026?

If you're not Yeovil or Somerset-based, this may not interest you, so skip it!!

An official inspectors response has just been published (big file, broadband recommended) to the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West. The Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) is a region-wide planning document which sketches out the next 20 or so years in terms of housing, transport, environment, employment etc.

The original RSS, published in 2006, planned for growth of 300 houses a year in Yeovil urban area, to meet it's share of regional housebuilding, which in turn was based on national projections. The national projections have since risen, and this has come through in the inspectors report - it equates to an extra 2500 houses per year across the region, on top of what was already planned.

Pages 179-183 of the full report - which seems to be pretty much accepted by the South West regional authoritites deal with the Yeovil area, and project growth of 9,100 new jobs (about 30%) in the Yeovil and district area. To house the extra workers and their dependants, the RSS looks more to urban centres than rural ones to bear the brunt of the housing. So Yeovil's housing projection has been revised upwards from 6,400 to 11,400. The report accepts that finding land for an extra 5,000 houses (i.e. a town the size of Wells) is 'a daunting task', and may involve the Yeovil urban area crossing the Dorset border.

11,400 houses, at normal occupancy levels of an average of 2.3 people per house, translates into 26220 extra people, on top of the existing Yeovil population of just over 40,000. So by 2030 we will be the size of Taunton, and still growing. This will radically change the nature of the town, and it's surrounds, and presents a massive challenge for our urban planners, as well as for the church. It makes the work we're doing to draw together teams for the 3 new housing estates currently in the pipeline (2000 houses between them) look quite modest, considering that over 5 times that number of houses could be built within the next generation.

If you're part of a church in an urban centre anywhere in the SW of England, you need to read the report. This will define the future shape of your community, and the number of people living there.

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