CONSERVATIVES in South Gloucestershire have voted to support proposals that will result in 32,500 new houses being built across the county, despite knowing of an email suggesting supporting transport plans has been “fudged”.​

Members of South Gloucestershire Council gathered last night to discuss the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), which sets out housing policies across South Gloucestershire, Bristol, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset up to 2036.

Of the 105,000 new homes in the plan, South Gloucestershire has been set the target of 32,500, with the bulk split between five locations, Yate (2,000), Coalpit Heath (1,800), Charfield (1,200) and Thornbury (500) as well as provision for the controversial proposed 3,000-home Buckover Garden Village.

With the West of England Joint Committee, consisting of the leaders of the four local authorities, having endorsed the plans during a meeting on October 30, they would then go to each council for support, with South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) being the first.

After heated debates from all sides, as well as input from action groups from Coalpit Heath, Thornbury and Falfied, councillors took it to a vote with the Conservative majority voting in favour of supporting the proposals while Liberal Democrats and Labour councillors chose to vote against or abstain.

This decision came despite an email coming to light from South Gloucestershire planners, claiming to have "fudged" transport plans for Buckover.

The email, which was discovered in a Freedom of Information request, raised "big concerns" about the proposals, but said they could be "fudged for the presentational purposes of the submission if the other factors being considered make this attractive for the council".

Concerns raised by campaigners, which ranged considerably, covering the likes of planning policy, overpopulation, traffic pressure and proximity to nuclear power stations, however, fell on deaf ears, with the council officially endorsing the JSP.

The plans will now be voted on by councils in Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset in the coming weeks, and if unanimously accepted, will go to public consultation.

A South Gloucestershire Council spokeswoman said: "To put this into context, the email referred to relates to an earlier version of an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the garden village initiative which was submitted to the Department for Communities and Local Government in July 2016. It does not refer to the Joint Spatial Plan.

"It was released by South Gloucestershire Council along with other information in January 2017 in response to a Freedom of Information request which was made at the end of 2016."