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SOLVE - The Council in turmoil.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 06 2011 @ 10:45 PM BST

Dear Peter

Thanks for taking time to respond. I agree with your comments and with your "facts" (although think you'll find that Basingstoke is now second only to Milton Keynes in new developments, once the figure from the past two years are taken into account!), but I'm afraid that I am not reassured by your first comment. Because there is a logic gap in that argument -  Manydown's exclusion doesn't put pressure on other greenfield areas in the borough. The shared argument that campaigners across the borough should have in common is that greenfield development is unnecessary (as well as being counter to government policy about the protection of prime agricultural land). In which case SOLVE should be delighted that Manydown has been excluded because it strengthens the case about greenfield protection. This rather extreme talk of judicial review, and the focussing upon the exclusion of Manydown (and the fervent calls by individuals like Councillor Biermann to develop Manydown seemingly at all costs) is logically at odds with the message you just posted in reply . Why is SOLVE not identifying more brownfield sites (they certainly do exist) and focussing upon the 1000 empty homes? Why is it only the exclusion of Manydown - which an Inspector has alreday ruled on, of course, and nothing has changed since then - that SOLVE is raising? Maria Miller has warned before about the dangers of creating an "east versus west" divide in the town (especially as this pits the wealthier east against less prosperous parts in the west) and on the need to focus on the bigger picture.

It's a real shame that individuals like Councillors Biermann and Watts have come out so strongly in support of Manydown development, even though this has failed in the past (listen to the people in the borough, councillors!). I do hope SOLVE won't make this mistake but will think carefully about its tactics from here on. Because you WILL lose the support of people from other parts of the town - people who want to protect our shared interests and heritage - if you focus relentlessly on Manydown's exclusion, as has been the case in recent comments. Our only chance of retaining Basingstoke's identity is by resisting ALL greenfield development, not by pitting one side against the other (and thereby doing the planners work for them). We don't need to develop on greenfield sites, whether in east or west, so I hope SOLVE will keep that message to the fore, and not create needless 'them or us' divisions. Otherwise, I'm afraid your message will get lost, and ultimately so will the greenfields we all wish to protect.

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