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March 2015 - Local Plan Update

Following the Local Plan Exploratory Meeting on 11th December, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) has accepted the Inspector’s suggested housing allocation of 850 dpa (dwellings per annum). This means a total of 15,300 new houses across the Borough by 2029, including 7,690 on Greenfield sites.

The Borough has to find an extra 1,800 dwellings on top of the original proposals in the draft plan. Further Greenfield sites around Basingstoke have now been considered, including sites to the north and east of Basingstoke. The agenda for the Economic Planning and Housing Committee on 4th March (plus the 12th March if needed) has now been issued and full details can be found at . A map of the proposed housing sites around Basingstoke is at Appendix G.

In response to a request from BDBC, Hampshire County Council (HCC), owner of the site known as East of Basingstoke or Pyotts Hill (SS3.9), has rejected proposals to double the housing quota on this site to 900 houses. They say that their decision to limit development on this site to 450 remains and is not up for negotiation. They point out that they have already released a great deal of land around Basingstoke, including a half share in Manydown, as well as many other sites throughout Hampshire.

The HCC rejection of further development on SS3.9 during this Local Plan to 2029 is good news for the larger sites to the east (Lodge Farm and Poors Farm) because opening up these sites depends on the full development of SS3.9. This is not to say that these sites are not vulnerable in the longer term.

The Economic Planning and Housing Committee will review the updated proposals on 4th March. Borough Officers have put forward Hounsome Fields (750 houses) as an additional Greenfield site. This is south west of Basingstoke, adjacent to the Golf Course and Kennel farm, sites already in the draft Local Plan. The remaining numbers have come from contingency and Brownfield sites.

Within the Council there remain those who wish to develop in the east in order to take pressure off the other sites. SOLVE and our Local Councillors are very aware of this and will work hard to protect the Loddon Valley. Make no mistake. This remains a critical time for the future quality of life in and around the Loddon Valley and our Parishes.

Later this month the full Council meets to decide whether to accept the Local Plan going forward to the Inspector in the autumn. In the meantime, we have the small matter of a General Election, one of the many unknowns with which we have to contend.

Basingstoke is not alone. Despite opposition from Local Groups, Councillors and MPs, Planning Inspectors across the Country continue to frustrate elected Councils with their blind insistence on more houses. In our case, like many others, they seem to ignore infrastructure, environment, transport, and many other factors.

The question must be asked – what is the best way to address the need for housing in the UK? Endless housebuilding is not the answer. Other factors which must be addressed are infrastructure, environment, transport, quality of life and above all an unsustainable population growth.

Worth a thought - this Local Plan extends to 2029, 14 years from now. This is a long time. Go back 14 years to 2001 - the financial crisis was 6 years away and with it a massive housing slump. No one, least of all economists or house builders, can predict the future.

Peter Bloyce SOLVE
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