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November/December 2015

BDBC Local Plan Hearing

The Local Plan Hearings have now ended and the Inspector is considering all of the evidence put to him, both verbally and in writing. The timetable includes a public consultation period to be conducted by the Council on modifications to the Plan. The Council will process the submissions which will be sent to the Inspector for his consideration before his final report is published in March 2016. The final report will set out the Inspector’s conclusions on the Overall Assessment of housing need and all other matters discussed during the public hearings.

At the Hearing session on ‘Spatial Strategy and Housing Need’ the developers and the House Builders Federation pressed for more housing. All of them appeared to use the same highly selective evidence paying scant regard to things that matter to most residents such as the environment and infrastructure. Developers pressed for more houses at every opportunity during the hearings. I’m sure that the Inspector has heard it all before.

Many participants argued the case for more small sites which they said would speed up deliverability. Several questioned the zero allocation for Tadley, something that both SOLVE and CountryWatch have highlighted before. However, the Council, after taking advice from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), has since recommended that sites near the AWE should not be put in the plan but can be considered on their merits during planning applications.

The number of housing allocations in the South West (SW) of the town compared to the North East (NE) has been a constant gripe from the South West Action Group (SWAG) trying to reduce housing in the south west. This was supported by Taylor Wimpey as they look to develop across the Loddon Valley.

In response to this, with its often misleading information, Cllr Godesen wrote to the Inspector pointing out that housing has been focused around the NE of the town in recent years. SOLVE backed this up by showing that there has been 3 times as many houses built in the NE of the Borough as in the south west since 1991.

Evidence produced by objectors highlighted the problems associated with the sites close to the Incinerator and Sewage Works. There were also strong debates on the water quality of the Loddon and infrastructure deficits across the whole borough. It seems that these may count for little given the strong lobby pressing to build houses. I fear we are storing up major problems for the future. Once the developers have made their profits and moved on, this will leave all residents with a much poorer quality of life.

Despite wide differences of opinion and conflicting evidence the debates were conducted politely and in good humour. Our Local Councillors sent a letter to the Gazette which sums up many parts of the hearings. See below.

The Council has now released a list of amendments to Councillors for their comments. Following this there will be a further period of public consultation for seven weeks from 21st December.

It is our understanding that these are “minor” and that they do not constitute significant changes to the Plan or its strategy. If this is true, and The Inspector agrees, then we hope for no increase in house building numbers (850 per annum) and no additional housing sites.

There were a great many submissions and documents supplied by all parties and they can be viewed on the Document Library on the Council website at http://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/Localplanexamination .

Peter Bloyce
SOLVE

Read more - letter from our Councillors.

Letter to the Gazette .

"For those of you unable to sit through the hours and weeks of 'testimony' at the ongoing Inspection in Public of our Local Plan, here is an abridged version courtesy of your local Councillors.

Imagine a room full of 'suited and booted' executives from house builders and developers, most whom don't live anywhere near Basingstoke, telling the Planning Inspector the following about our Local Plan:

No matter how many homes Basingstoke offers to build, it won't be enough.

Plans for Manydown aren't enough. They must build more to the East as well; a perfect location because "a new railway station will be built at Chineham, honest Gov!ý"

It doesn't matter that they have built more homes than all their neighbouring Councils, they still need to build more.

It doesn't matter that Chineham and Basing have seen the bulk of new houses in recent history, there's plenty of room for more.

It doesn't matter that the majority of residents don't want many more homes, because their mate George, who lives at No. 11, told them that when he promised 'localism' what he meant to say was 'tokenism'.

Residents' concerns about infrastructure, support services, water and sewage are unfounded. The only way to solve them is to raise more money by building more homes!

To cap it all, the suit from Taylor Wimpey, when asked how their plans for 4000+ homes in and around The Loddon Valley would impact the environment, uttered the following incredible comment :

"If you walk along the River Loddon, you'll see it's not a very attractive walk. Our plans to build 4000 new homes will improve not only the environment and bio-diversity, but also the water quality of the river".

We paraphrase, yet this was the gist of his position. We kid you not! You couldn't make it up!

As politicians we appreciate that people are fed up with spin. We share their frustrations. However, this contemptuous and self-serving nonsense must take the biscuit.

Let's hope the Planning Inspector doesn't fall for it!

Cllrs Clive Pinder, Onnalee Cubbit, Sven Godeson & Elaine Still."
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