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September 2014 - CPRE “Waste of Space”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council Officers are considering the many comments sent in response to the public consultation. There are over 2000 comments from around 600 individuals and organisations from both last autumn and this year. We understand that at this stage there is nothing major which will require the plan to return to full Council so the draft plan should go to the Planning Inspector in the Autumn.

As you would expect, comments from other groups around the borough do not necessarily accord with our own. For instance, South West Action Group (SWAG) supporters would like less building to the south-west of the town and more to the east.

For information, under the draft Local Plan to 2029, Borough housing numbers on some Greenfield sites are as follows:- South West 1310 (Kennel Farm and Basingstoke Golf Course), North East 1560 (Pyotts Hill, Redlands, Swing-Swang Lane, Razors Farm and Cufaude Farm). Not included in the SW or NE are Manydown and Kiln Farm (towards Sherborne St John). Manydown is subject to a Master Plan currently being prepared separately.

Despite our differences we have been talking to SWAG about our common objectives. They are:
• Capping the annual housing target at 748, lower if possible, on the basis that Basingstoke has over-supplied in the recent past and that it should not be penalised for doing so now.
• Brownfield first – resisting any further incursion onto Greenfield sites. Instead, allowing brownfield, often unidentified, opportunities to be taken into account. See Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) below.
• Enshrining the idea of 'no development before appropriate infrastructure'. This includes exerting influence to ensure essential infrastructure is identified, funded and delivered.
• Trying to prevent pre-emptive development before the Local Plan is in place.

SOLVE and SWAG met with Maria Miller MP, during July. This was followed by a joint SOLVE/SWAG briefing paper for Maria to present to the new Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis, and/or his officials prior to a meeting.

Part of our case uses latest planning guidance, 6th March, from the then Minister, Nick Boles, which said, amongst other things:-
• “past over-supply of housing to be taken into account when assessing housing needs”. We believe that this policy is aimed exactly at Basingstoke’s situation. Housing completions in Basingstoke and Deane 2006-2013 was 39 houses per 1000 population. Amongst our near neighbours the next highest was Rushmoor 28, followed by Reading 26. Over the last ten years Basingstoke has seen the third highest housing completions in the country.
• “ensuring that infrastructure is provided to support new development, and noting how infrastructure constraints should be considered when assessing suitability of sites”. We believe that this should enshrine the idea of 'no development before appropriate infrastructure'. The BDBC Infrastructure Development Plan has a funding shortfall of £247 Million.
• “stressing the importance of bringing brownfield land into use making clear that authorities do not have to allocate sites on the basis of providing the maximum possible return for landowners and developers”. Read on for the (CPRE) report. See the CPRE “waste of space” campaign on
CPRE – “Waste of Space”

On 15th August SOLVE, and others, met with the CPRE to discuss, amongst other things, their “Brownfield First” and “Waste of Space” campaigns. “Waste of Space” is an appeal to members of the public to help identify unused brownfield sites that could be suitable for housing. These could be derelict, abandoned or vacant sites, even empty offices. These sites may not be confined to towns and cities but could be small brownfield sites in and around villages where just a few houses could be built. Since the draft Local Plan was published, sites like this have come forward in the BDBC area. If enough brownfields come forward then Greenfield sites could be saved.
Therefore SOLVE and other groups are calling on their supporters to engage with the ‘waste of space’ campaign and help identify suitable sites. Details can be found at Send your suggestions, with photos if available, of suitable sites via email, Facebook or Twitter.

The meeting on 15th August also identified a number of actions for the CPRE to follow up on behalf of supporters in the North Hampshire area.

• The CPRE is to write to local councillors to ask them to consider brownfield sites in their wards. This will help publicise the ‘waste of space’ campaign which could be taken up by local groups.

• CPRE will write to the Planning Inspectorate asking them to give greater weight to proposals in Local Plans where these are close to adoption, as in Basingstoke. Recent decisions have shown a bias towards developers that put in pre-emptive plans even when a Local Plan is close to adoption.

• It was accepted that the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Enterprise M3, has a significant influence on planning and development matters. Whilst not directly promoting housing numbers, these unelected quangos produce business-led strategies for economic growth with little regard for public views. The CPRE is to investigate having a direct representative on the LEP.

Peter Bloyce SOLVE
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