Bath Voice News: ‘glitches’ disrupted the ability of the public to comment on the proposed Corston Fields development near Bath

By Local Democracy Reporter John Wimperis: A top councillor has apologised after glitches disrupted a major consultation on where thousands of houses should be built in North East Somerset.

Almost 14,500 houses need to be built in the area across the next 20 years, Bath and North East Somerset Council has been told. Although some are already planned or expected, the council still needs to find space to build 6,500 homes. A host of sites have been included as options for housing in the next local plan and the council is carrying out a major consultation on where they should go.But the online consultation was hit with a string of glitches and issues for a period of time which affected people’s ability to take part, from not showing images to not accepting people’s responses. The consultation began in February and was due to finish on April 8, but has now been extended by a week to April 16.

At the council’s climate scrutiny panel on Thursday, Duncan Hounsell (Saltford, Liberal Democrats) quizzed council bosses on the consultation’s “chequered few weeks.” He said: “It started a day late. Shortly afterwards, because of an upgrade, none of the diagrams were available on screen.“Then it was discovered that, for some of the responses, it was only accepting a few sentences and not the whole of somebody’s response. And then it got discovered that if you pressed the submit button, it didn’t work. You actually had to press it twice to get the green box that gave you a receipt number and an acknowledgement sent to your email.”

He warned: “All these issues do undermine public confidence and for something as major as this.”The council’s deputy head of planning Richard Daone insisted the system had been tested before the consultation went live, but said that a problem arose with the council system which affected several parts of the website for “a few days.”

He said: “It’s something we need to make sure — for the next stages of engagement on the local plan — that we do need to learn those lessons and that we do test all parts of the system really thoroughly.“I completely understand what you are saying. It does undermine public confidence in our consultation, so we will learn those lessons.”Matt McCabe (Bathavon South, Liberal Democrats), the council cabinet member for built environment and sustainable development, said at the meeting: “I’d just like to add an apology for all the problems.

”The options for where the houses could go include major expansions to several towns and villages in the area, moving the Brislington Park and Ride to accommodate a major new development straddling the border with Bristol, and building a new village from scratch on an award-winning farm near Burnett.Speaking ahead of the launch of the consultation in February, council leader Kevin Guy said: “I would encourage every single resident to take part in this plan. I cannot underestimate its importance. It will be guiding the economic strategy, where houses go, where development goes, for the next ten years and beyond so it is important you have your say.”

You can find out more and have your say on the local plan here:

Bath Voice and Local Democracy Reporters

The journalists are funded by the BBC as part of its latest Charter commitment, but are employed by regional news organisations. A total of 165 reporters are allocated to news organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland including Bath Voice. These organisations range from television and radio stations to online media companies and established regional newspaper groups. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities, second-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.

Bath Voice Monthly Newspaper is distributed free to thousands of homes and some supermarkets – distributed from the first of the month. Harry Mottram is the News Editor

Email him at Bath website:
Bath Facebook:  Also on Twitter: Read the newspaper online at : To advertise to thousands of Bathonians call Erica on 07402 441485 or email her on

Harry Mottram is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Telegram, TikTok and Mobile: 07789 864769