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Landscape Study email exchange

The Landscape Study exchange of emails between the Chairman of the P&IOSCOM and SOLVE.

 Dear Stephen,

Having viewed the webcast of the P&IOSCOM meeting on 24th March 2011, I noted, at the start of the meeting, there was a debate at which an attempt was made by Labour to put the Landscape Study on the agenda for the next OSCOM meeting. This weighty document is available on the Council website and is an important piece of evidence which, just like the Water Cycle Study and the Transport Study, should be subject to scrutiny by the OSCOM.

 I note that you led the debate from the Chair against the inclusion of this report on the OSCOM agenda. The Conservative group then followed your recommendation and this resulted in the proposal being lost.

 With the webcast and the study report in the public domain, members of the public are likely to question what are the “misgivings” to which you refer in the debate. SOLVE are very concerned that such an important study may not get the scrutiny it deserves and therefore not feature as legitimate evidence by an Inspector. I do intend to highlight this in my reports to the residents of Old Basing, Lychpit and Chineham and it would be very helpful if you could explain your misgivings so that our public are better informed.

SOLVE is working well with you and others on the ‘Best for Basingstoke Group’. I hope this will continue and problems such as those highlighted above will not affect our working relationship.

Regards Peter Bloyce, SOLVE

Reply

Dear Peter

I was of the opinion that placing the Landscape Capacity Study on the agenda was unlikely to improve progress towards the LDF.

When the study was first presented, I asked for a two week period in which Councillors could comment on the report. Cllr Golding acceded to that request. Only three Councillors responded - Onnalee Cubitt, Robert Donnell on behalf of his colleagues in the West of Basingstoke, and Keith Watts. No Labour Councillor responded, which for me put into perspective their call for a debate.

The report is not the Council's report: to emphasis that I specifically asked that it be labelled as a report FOR the Council and not BY the Council. Cllr Golding agreed to that, as well.

I have spoken with the Officers about the report, which I consider to be deeply flawed. They have told me that the methodology is 'industry standard'. Given that it uses a recognised methodology and is also not a report of the Council, a debate could not have made any amendments to the report. It would merely impact on the time available to conduct the LDF discussions, which I would wish to see progress smoothly.

My judgement is that we have to enter the LDF debate and start making real decisions rather than constantly talking about what we might talk about when the debate starts. As we enter the LDF discussions, it will be for the Councillors to present the merits and demerits of individual sites and to give views on the evidence with which they are presented.  The evidence of the Landscape Capacity Study can therefore be discussed field-by-field as we go through the LDF process, should that be necessary. The debate will happen therefore, but as part of the LDF process.

My critique of the Landscape Capacity Study, notwithstanding that some of the facts are plain wrong, is that it draws its conclusions from the perspective of the rabbit - from the middle of the fields. It pays insufficient attention to the perspectives of the neighbours - the people who live near and look over the green fields and for whom the green fields are visual and practical amenities.

Regards Stephen

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