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SOLVE Report End 2013

Local Plan Stalls
 
SOLVE and our advisors have been studying the many hundreds of pages commenting on the Pre-Submission Local Plan as a result of the public consultation. This has raised a number of issues and the Council Planning and Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Committee (P&IOSCOM) debated these on 14th November.
 
The P&IOCSOM recommended further work and a requirement for a further public consultation should there be, as expected, major changes to the plan. A new timetable was agreed which means the plans will not be adopted until 2015.  Amongst the further work required is: 
  • The Borough’s objectively assessed housing need. Developers have made alternative proposals for a higher housing allocation. SOLVE and others have made proposals for lower housing numbers but these appear to carry less weight.
  • Amendments to site allocations, including the identification/assessment of new ones, as suggested by respondents. This includes changes to the Pyotts Hill site East of Basingstoke/Chineham now that the landowner, Hampshire County Council (HCC), has confirmed they will promote only 450 houses on this site before 2029.
 
There is now a danger that developers will make applications on land that was not identified in the original Local Development Framework. We are concerned that in addition to 450 houses East of Pyotts Hill, Lodge Farm (BAS102) & Poors Farm (BAS103) may be included because of this delay.
 
Taylor Wimpey has submitted a comprehensive 174 page report much of which is a re-hash of their previous rejected evidence. They want a massive increase in housebuilding in Basingstoke. In essence it would increase the number of houses in the Borough by 50% during the plan period up to 2029. Their main aim is the release of land owned by the Kings Fund, which Taylor Wimpey has options on, for housing to cover much of the Loddon Valley to the north and east of Old Basing and Chineham. 
 
Hodds Farm also at risk – At the P&IOSCOM in November, Council Planning Officers presented, without warning, a further site to the East of Old Basing, Hodds Farm. Unsurprisingly, many Councillors were infuriated by this, in particular the lack of notification. Hodds Farm is land in Old Basing East of the VW garage, between the A30, the railway line and Ashmoor Lane with the potential for 1000 houses. 
 
This site was rejected by the Planning Inspector in 2005. However, the submission from Taylor Wimpey, in which they said they ‘had an interest in Hodds Farm’, was not put forward by them as a specific site during this consultation. This was an initiative by the Borough Officers who have told us that they are “exploring alternatives”. It would be understandable if other Landowners and Developers, for example Pellipar Investments representing the developers of Hounsome Fields in the SW of the Borough, might also look for preferential treatment.
 
The possible inclusion of Hodds Farm will require further evidence such as a Landscape Assessment, sequential testing for flood risk, transport impact of an additional 1000 homes accessed off the A30 and the impact of a road linking the A33 to the A30 across the Loddon Valley.
 
Fiasco - read on.

 

Local Plan Fiasco - Our lawyers warned the Council about Manydown being unlawful...they didn't listen; and we warned them that the HCC was only promoting 450 homes on Pyotts Hill...they didn't listen!


The Council has been found woefully inadequate and now finds itself caught up in constantly evolving Government planning policy, driven by economic concerns and the 2015 election without regard to the environment, and the pressures from residents and business in the Borough. It remains a major impediment that a number of Councillors appear unable to accept the ruling of the Manydown Judicial Review.

Amongst the many submissions, the Borough Councillor and Cabinet member, who was previously responsible for the “unlawful” Local Plan, makes the case for building on the Poors Farm site in the Loddon Valley. Fortunately a number of respected organisations such as Hampshire Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, Thames Water and the CPRE give sound reasons why the Loddon Valley is unsuitable for housing.

SOLVE suggests that in order to relieve the pressure on The Borough's land and financial resources they should take full advantage of the Manydown site that was bought with taxpayers’ money explicitly to manage the expansion of Basingstoke. Besides providing the houses, this would release the funds needed to invest in additional infrastructure without raising additional taxes.


Without a Local Plan and a 5 year land supply (currently 3.8 years) all Greenfield sites, including the Loddon Valley, are now at risk as developers could submit their own plans.


It is now impossible to predict where and when this will all end.


Peter Bloyce

SOLVE
 

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