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SOLVE Report - December 2011

Council Debates Manydown Decisions
A full council meeting on 13th October debated three motions concerning the Manydown site selection. The calls for its re-instatement into the LDF process were defeated narrowly by the ruling Conservatives.  Councillors Godeson and Cubitt voted with the opposition in support of their residents. Our thanks go to all those that attended the impressive public turnout. It is most unfortunate that another webcast failure coincided with this debate.
Since then the Basingstoke Conservatives suspended Cllr Onnalee Cubitt from the party for, in her words – “commitment to serving the interests of my electorate first and foremost”. We understand that Onnalee has received many messages of support.  There has also been a massive post bag in support of Onnalee in the Basingstoke Gazette and SOLVE endorses that support.
On the 17th October the Cabinet debated the site selection referral from the Planning & Infrastructure Scrutiny Committee (P&IOSCOM). There were 18 public speakers, including Parish and Borough Councillors, and the debate was interrupted many times from the ‘floor’. A representative from the Manydown Company, freeholders of this land, stunned the Cabinet by saying that, from their perspective, the Manydown land is “available” for development. However, the Cabinet ignored everything, including the call to remove Pyotts Hill (BAS121) from the site selection, and approved the next stage of the LDF process.

Read on - EPP meeting and Secretary of State ruling

On 23rd November the Economic Prosperity and Performance (EPP) Committee held a special meeting to review the Manydown decision.  There were 13 public speakers including SOLVE. The debate was lively, if a little one sided from the opposition, since regular Conservative members of the committee, including the Chairman and Vice Chairman, were unavailable. The substitutes contributed little to the debate but did enough for their absent masters to agree a motion effectively kicking the subject into the long grass. However, the opposition kept this away from the Cabinet, for the time being, by referring it to the Full Council on 15th December.  The committee referred questions of governance to the ‘Audit Governance and Accounts Committee’ which next meets on 27th February.
SOLVE is working behind the scenes on a number of options, including Judicial Review, in order to get the LDF process on a level playing field. Even if successful, we are likely to be faced with defending BAS121, where failure will mean the whole of the Loddon Valley is opened up to housing development. However, we are confident that on a site for site basis, given an independent and impartial assessment, BAS121 will be seen as the least suitable for housing development.
A ruling in Cornwall - A greenfield site on the edge of St Austell, with proposals for 1300 houses, was the subject of a planning appeal which was turned down by the Secretary of State (SoS) who considered - “that in this particular case it is important to give Cornwall the opportunity to complete its Core Strategy - - - allowing the appeal in advance of establishing the appropriate level of future housing provision across Cornwall would pre-empt decisions that should properly be taken locally.” 
This is in line with similar SoS decisions, e.g. Bartons Farm, Winchester. This, with an 18 month breathing space for Councils to complete their Core Strategies, means BDBC have time to correct the Manydown mistake free from developers’ appeal threats.

Peter Bloyce, SOLVE

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