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Planning Inspector Report - Good news

Inspector finds the Local Plan sound. – Good news for the Loddon Valley

The Planning Inspector has accepted the Basingstoke and Deane Local Plan as sound. He agreed the Council figure of 850 houses per annum and did not suggest any further Greenfield sites.

The news for Old Basing and Lychpit is very good. The Inspector does show an awareness of all the fears SOLVE and so many others have expressed, particularly over water quality, biodiversity, the special significance of the Loddon Valley, the need for mitigating measures to be undertaken and the need for careful monitoring to identify problems before they occur. Nevertheless, he has approved the first development in the valley despite all the representations so many of us have submitted. So it is understandable that some people continue to be sceptical.

Lodge Farm, Poors Farm and Hodds Farm, sites in the Loddon Valley, were put forward as omission sites by Taylor Wimpey in an attempt to get this area developed. However, the Inspector considered that these sites were not suitable or sustainable on several grounds. He repeated that – “the Environment Agency has objected on the grounds of Flood risk and impact on the river Loddon and associated wetlands on biodiversity grounds.”

He also cast doubt on the future viability of all these sites beyond this Local Plan, after 2029, saying – “Some representations hint at the possibility of these sites being brought forward beyond the plan period. Even then, I envisage major infrastructural work, on the assumption that the impact on the biodiversity of the Loddon Valley can be mitigated to an acceptable standard, although it is difficult to see at this point in time how this could be achieved.”

He was concerned about the East of Basingstoke (Pyotts Hill) site, scheduled for 450 houses, and Redlands Farm, scheduled for 165 houses, regarding noise and odour pollution. The Inspector said that – “Policies SS3.7 (Redlands Farm) and SS3.9 (Pyotts Hill) require the preparation of comprehensive noise and odour studies in conjunction with the utility provider, which would form the layout decisions.”

In reply to those who thought that the housing allocations were skewed towards the West and South-West the Inspector echoed our views by saying - “A significant proportion of recent growth in the town of Basingstoke, until the start of the plan period, has been to the north and north-east of the urban area. From this perspective, the change in emphasis to the south-west and west is no more than counterbalancing the previous growth trend in the town.”

SOLVE would like to thank all our supporters who contributed in any way to our campaign to save the Loddon Valley from inappropriate development. A special thank you our Local Borough Councillors, Sven Godesen, Onnalee Cubitt and Clive Pinder (Also founder member of SOLVE.). We have come a long way since the original threat to build 9,000 houses across the Loddon Valley.

SOLVE will continue to work with our Local Councillors as the plans for the East of Basingstoke site emerge. This report from the Planning Inspector adds further to our armoury in defence of the Loddon Valley. Nevertheless there is a lot to watch out for, such as monitoring the river water quality, flood risk, protection of the biodiversity and chalk stream environment and noise and odour pollution. These problems will not go away and we need to hold the Council planners and developers to account.

The Inspector’s report can be found on the BDBC website at http://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/planningpolicy

It is proposed that the Borough Council will seek adoption of the Basingstoke and Deane Local Plan 2011 to 2029 at the meeting of Full Council on 26 May 2016.

Peter Bloyce
SOLVE
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