Housing developers 'should have to fund public artwork'

North Somerset Green councillor Bridget Petty and Jenna Ho Marris by public art in Easton in Bristol
North Somerset Green councillor Bridget Petty and Jenna Ho Marris by public art in Easton in Bristol -Credit:Bridget Petty

Greens in North Somerset are calling for more public art across the district — with housing developers to foot the bill.

A motion set to go for a vote at a full meeting of North Somerset Council tomorrow (Tuesday May 14) will call for the council to make it a part of the area’s local plan — the major document which sets the planning permission rules for the next 15 years — for housing developers to contribute to art in the public realm.

Cllr Bridget Petty (Backwell, Green), who is set to table the motion, said she had been approached by a Backwell local with the idea. The village — whose railway station is the first stop on the train outside Bristol — is a particular target for developers, with hundreds of homes proposed to be built on fields surrounding it. Locals recently lost a 40-year battle to protect Farleigh Fields from housing developers.

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Cllr Petty said: “They are making millions off land in North Somerset and public art is a small but important way that the local community can be provided some cultural compensation.”

She added that nearby councils such as Bristol and South Gloucestershire already had public art integrated into their planning process. She said: “North Somerset residents deserve the same as neighbouring authorities: high quality design and art in the landscape which can support and increase pride in local streets. My colleague Jenna Ho Marris and I were recently walking in central Bristol and were impressed by the colourful artwork.”

Fellow councillor Thomas Daw (Wrington, Green) who will be the Green candidate for Weston-super-Mare at the general election added: “Arts and culture is everything we do, from how we talk to what we eat. It is so important for the community. Art gives an expressive output for all ages in a time when it feels most needed. Helping mental health and bridging community relationships.

“I commend councillor Petty on her work with this motion. It really reinforces the Green councillors' dedication to people first and our goal of a better, fairer society for everyone. As the MP for Weston I would continue this work.”

North Somerset Council will meet in a full council meeting at 6pm on May 14 in the New Council Chamber in Weston-super-Mare Town Hall.