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Sites discussed included those at Chineham, Oakley, Overton and Whitchurch
Buy this photo » View looking from Sapley Lane in Overton
EVERYONE has made a good argument for not building anywhere in Basingstoke and Deane.
That was the view of borough council leader Councillor Clive Sanders after three hours of listening to the public’s views about which green fields may have to be turned into 7,800 homes by 2029.
The committee room was packed as the borough’s decision-making Cabinet heard opinions on a list of potential sites needed to hit the target of building between 730 and 770 homes every year, in line with Government requirements.
The Cabinet agreed to consider the comments made at the meeting when drawing up the new draft Local Plan, which should be out for consultation from mid-May before it is examined by an inspector and comes into force in March next year.
The long process is slowly advancing after a High Court judge threw out the borough’s Local Plan blueprint last year after the Conservative administration left out the council-owned land at Manydown from its considerations.
At the conclusion of last Thursday’s meeting, the Cabinet agreed to an amended list that dropped a requirement to build 200 homes in Bramley and 150 at Redlands opposite Sherfield Park. But it also agreed to another site in Overton and for another site to bring Whitchurch’s total to 550 new homes.
Transport studies, including the possibility of a road through Manydown, will also be undertaken.
Overton attracted far more speakers than any other settlement on the list. Most said it was in danger of being swamped with housing and ceasing to be a village. They were also angry that last-minute changes meant the village was suddenly facing “the bombshell” of a potential 300 more homes.
Local borough councillor Paula Baker said: “People have been talking about their fear of losing the character of the village, which has always been a working village, and of it becoming just another dormitory.”
Cllr Baker, like others, said the Court Farm site, if developed, would destroy a famous view of the church. (It was down for 80 homes in one report.) Parish councillor Lucy Sloane Williams and borough councillor Ian Tilbury said the sewerage system could not cope. Cllr Tilbury said Basingstoke should not use Overton as an overflow settlement.
Alison Cross said Overton had doubled in size in her lifetime and “so much of what we value about Overton is under threat”.
Tom Ridler, Overton Parish Council chairman, said the roads were inadequate, as was the “decrepit” railway station.
In response, Cabinet planning chief Cllr Donald Sherlock said that the site Land North of Court Farm was being reviewed.
Whitchurch and its infrastructure could not manage with another 2,000 residents, Cllr John Clark of the town council told the Cabinet.
Whitchurch borough councillor Keith Watts said there was no legal justification for adding another 200 homes to the 350 for which the town was already earmarked. He told the Cabinet: “We are not going to stand by while you destroy our community.”
Phil Cooper said he had been heavily involved in neighbourhood planning but the Cabinet had torn it up. Joanne Brooks said a petition against 550 homes had gained 242 signatures in 48 hours. She said: “We want neighbourhood planning. Don’t take away our right to have a say.”
Razors Farm and Cufaude Farm: Nicholas Bywater, of the campaign group Stand Against Razors Farm, said the two sites on the north-western edge of Chineham were not sustainable.
A representative from industrial gas suppliers Air Products said his company had been at Hampshire International Business Park, next to Razors Farm, for 25 years and feared conflict over noise from the developments. Borough councillors Chris Tomblin and Paul Miller said local opinion was clearly against further pressure on infrastructure and facilities.
North of Popley Fields: Vivien Washbourne and Jane Frankum, both borough councillors, said Popley residents had already put up with 10 years of construction on neighbouring sites and were awaiting the results of the appeal submitted by David Wilson Homes against refusal of permission for 450 homes on the site at Kiln Farm. Cllr Washbourne said approving 450 homes would “open the flood gates”. Edward Davies, from Sherborne St John, also spoke against inclusion of the site.
Kennel Farm and Basingstoke Golf Club: Stafford Napier, of the South Western Action Group, who lives in Dummer, warned that the two sites were full of sewerage and infrastructure pitfalls.
Julian Jones, chairman of Dummer Parish Council, said 1,250 homes on the sites would lead to great pressure on roads, especially the M3 junctions.
John Rothera, of Kempshott Residents' Association, said his members were very worried about the two sites and about parcel six of the Manydown land, which abuts Kempshott and is bisected by Pack Lane. He said Parcel Six was in “splendid isolation”.
Oakley: George Elkin, from Oakley Parish Council, said traffic from Manydown Parcel Six would require major reworking of Fiveways junction in Kempshott. The 200 homes proposed for Oakley were more than were wanted as the village's facilities were already over-stretched and it had no railway station.
Land East of Basingstoke: This site next to Chineham has already been the focus of a lot of opposition. Peter Bloyce, from Countrywatch, Kate Tuck from campaigning group SOLVE, and borough councillor Onnalee Cubitt spoke against its inclusion in the plan. Mr Bloyce said Tadley was the second largest settlement in the borough and should take “its fair share of housing”. Cllr Cubitt called on the Conservatives to build 594 houses per year in the borough instead of 770, as they had promised when elected.
The Cabinet response: Summing up, council leader Cllr Clive Sanders said refusing development was “not a viable option, given the growth of the population”.
The overall figure for new homes would have to stand up to examination by a Government planning inspector, he stressed.
But he said the list of sites being debated was “not a done deal” and further work would continue, including transport studies.
He had concerns about “parts of Overton and Whitchurch” and added: “We would support any effort to get Tadley back into the frame.”
His Cabinet colleague Cllr Rob Golding, said if the infrastructure did not support the housing numbers, “then the numbers will have to come down”.