Plans to build 105,000 homes across the West of England by 2036 are now under the spotlight of two Government officials.

Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset’s councils submitted their joint spatial plan in April 2018 and now planning inspectors Malcolm Rivett and Steven Lee will determine if it should be adopted.

Developers, transport chiefs, campaign groups and interested parties from across the region have all had their say, picking apart the issues they say mean the document as it stands should not be adopted.

Home builders are calling for the housing target to be boosted to 140,000, while opponents say the councils’ target overestimates demand.

Others have questioned why the councils chose the 12 “strategic development locations” and questioned if the decision was politically motivated.

For South Gloucestershire the SDLs are in Buckover, Charfield, Coalpit Heath, Thornbury and Yate.

Critics said the approach across the West of England was inconsistent – three authorities chose sites within the green belt but North Somerset Council did not.

Speaking at the first session of the public examination in Bath’s Guildhall on Tuesday, Mr Rivett acknowledged residents’ concerns about the “stark contrast” in the approaches the councils had taken to the green belt.

Developers Taylor Wimpey and Bovis Homes said even more green belt land should be released for development.

Bloor Homes and Barratt Homes said the target of 105,000 houses will not be enough to meet future demand across the West of England. They said at least 140,000 homes will be needed.

But in its representation, TRAPP'D (Thornbury Residents Against Poorly Planned Development) warned that, if the target of 105,000 homes is an overestimate, the impact will be “catastrophic”. It said planning permission had already been granted for the 500 homes the JSP says should be built in Thornbury by 2036.

TRAPP’D co-chairman Colin Gardner said the SDLs had been chosen for “political convenience”.

He criticised the consultation process, which he said was either impenetrable or “like talking to a brick wall”, adding: “The authorities knew what they wanted to do.”

There are further hearings today, tomorrow, next week and in September and October. A decision is not expected until next year.

Inspectors will either find the plan to be sound and legally compliant straight away – which Mr Rivett said is unlikely – suggest modifications, or conclude that no changes could be made that would make the plan sound and legally compliant. In that case, the councils would be advised to withdraw the plan.