The fact that property values in Bristol rose faster than in any other UK city last year has prompted a leading planner to call for an ambitious approach to directing housing growth around the city region.
Tom Stanley, Director of Planning in the Bristol office of Colliers International said latest data from the Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index showing a 9.6% rise for Bristol in 2016 demonstrated that lack of housing stock was driving prices beyond the reach of many ordinary people, and that the approach set out in the latest version of the Joint Spatial Plan to building houses outside of Green Belt land needed to be re-examined.
“Bristol is at risk of a housing crisis that will make it impossible for many people on average wages to buy a home in the city,” he said.
“Many councils are already adopting a more pragmatic approach towards redrawing Green Belt boundaries, many of which date back to 1955.
“Delivering houses is not just about hitting targets for numbers, it is about directing them to the most appropriate locations when considering access to jobs, education and shops and ensuring that people that live in those homes can have a high quality of life – which includes reducing where possible commuting time and the use of the motor vehicle.
“By jumping the Green Belt and directing development away from Bristol City the market will force the house prices in the city to increase at a greater rate than we have already seen and widening the affordability gap.
“The original aim of creating Green Belt areas was to restrict development sprawl. However, given the way in which the Bristol housing market is overheating, due consideration needs to be given to examining locations where land can be released adjacent to the existing urban edge of Bristol where it does not meet the Green Belt tests and is the most sustainable location for people to live.”
The average house price in Bristol is now £261,600, according to the Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index, which tracks price movements across the UK’s 20 biggest cities
Hometrack UK found values in Bristol increased by 9.6% across the year to December 2016. Manchester saw the second highest price at 8.9%; followed by Oxford at 8.1%; Portsmouth, £222,400, 8%; and Southampton, £221,700, 7.9%.
It is the second year in succession that Bristol has topped the list, although growth has slowed from 11.6 per cent in 2015.
Mr Stanley said: “There is a pressing need for the four West of England Partnership Authorities to plan for the future in a sustainable way that takes into account population growth, is in keeping with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework. The Joint Spatial Plan is the most appropriate document to ensure sustainable development is at the core of Bristol’s future.
“House prices in the city are now rising at such a rate that people cannot afford to live near to where they work, or in areas in which they were brought up and in which they have family and friends. If this continues, satellite settlements outside of Bristol will become commuter towns isolated from jobs and key services.
“People will be further car dependant causing more damage to the environment when much of this harm can be avoided by ensuring, through good planning, homes are located near to existing jobs and excellent new public transport, such as MetroBus.”