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SOLVE Meeting 6th November

It is a year since SOLVE was set up to fight proposals for building 9,000 houses in the Loddon Valley East of Basingstoke. Despite setbacks our resolve has hardened and support has strengthened.

The meeting of over 250 people at Old Basing Village hall on 6th November to discuss the ‘Community Engagement’ on future housing in the Borough demonstrated the strength of feeling behind our cause. There to answer questions were Maria Miller MP, Cllr Rob Golding (Council Cabinet Planning Portfolio Holder) and local Borough Councillors Onnalee Cubitt, Sven Godeson, Stephen Marks and Martin Biermann. Clive Pinder from SOLVE gave a short presentation of our current and past work and then opened up a ‘Question Time’ style discussion. Main points from the meeting were:-

  • The Council will take full account of the community engagement. The law now gives greater powers and control over housing decisions to local people.

  • The current infrastructure (transport, hospitals, schools etc.) is inadequate and changes must be in place before new housing is agreed. Money will not be available for some time.

  • An independent inspector at a public inquiry would have to be convinced that infrastructure is available to support new development.

  • There was agreement that the number of houses to be built in the Borough should be reduced. On average the Borough has built 1,315 houses a year in the 3 years to March 2010; we have the fastest house building rate in the UK.

  • Currently the Borough’s annual birth rate exceeds the death rate by 900 which gives a local need of 350 houses per year.

  • When pressed, most councillors agreed that they would like to see the housing target reduced to around 350 pa. We should build for local people.

  • As an interim strategy the Council are using the previous housing target of 740pa.

  • Keeping house building figures in the Borough low would protect Greenfield sites.

  • Conservative policy is to oppose building on Greenfield sites unless absolutely necessary.

  • Maria Miller supports our aim to reduce house building and said “an East versus West (Manydown) fight was not the answer and the case for building on Greenfield sites had been blatantly inflated. We should protect all these sites”.

  • The ‘Council Vision’ emphasises “enriching the countryside” and the draft plan for 2011-2014 aims to protect our natural environment by involving our communities in future planning.

  • Water quality and supply is a major problem in the Borough with high phosphate and oestrogen levels in the Loddon.

At the end of the meeting all Councillors urged residents to take part in the consultation and complete the questionnaire. They also asked everyone to consider the potential for small developments in their own community/villages.

Responses to the ‘Community Engagement’ should be in by 14th January. Go to the Council website to respond www.basingstoke.gov.uk/go/newhomes.

Ultimately we will be up against well financed developers who will use all their influence and persuasive powers. Failure is not an option for SOLVE and our supporters. 9,000 houses, over 20,000 people, to the east of Basingstoke would mean.

  •  Destruction of a Conservation Area and wildlife habitats

  • Increased risk of flooding and pollution of the Loddon River

  •  Insufficient infrastructure to cope with the increased population

  • A massive increase in traffic, pollution and noise

  •  Bigger school classes; longer hospital waiting lists and a strain on policing

The presentation can be downloaded here

Peter Bloyce

SOLVE (Save our Loddon Valley Environment)

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