The Leader of Eastleigh Council, Keith House, has branded Conservative opposition to the building of 6000 new homes in the Botley SDA as “ Hollow at best, misleading at worst’.
He has also claimed that the Conservative leader of Hampshire County Council, Ken Thornber could “kill the project off with one signature” by committing not to sell land, crucial to the development.
Mr House wrote to ‘Eastleigh News’ following an invitation to ‘put the record straight’ in reply to claims made at hustings on Tuesday. Both the Conservative PPC Maria Hutchings and Leo Barraclough for Labour were critical of the actions of Liberal Democrat controlled Eastleigh Council and in particular, the role of the Keith House both as Council leader and as a member of various other authorities connected with the planning application.
Mr House insisted that his opposition was a matter of public record which showed he had:
- drafted and moved the motions in 2005 and 2008 that opposed the SDA and..
- as Lib Dem Group Leader at Hampshire County Council he had backed a motion calling on HCC to commit not to sell land in their ownership which formed part of the SDA.
Mr House also said he believes that the SDA proposal would fail the same feasibility tests that the proposed Allington Lane site had failed and that this would result in the SDA plan for Botley NOT going ahead.
“The process at the moment is of testing feasibility. The PUSH documentation, which first emerged from County planners in July 2005 was about identifying areas to test, not about identifying areas to agree. All authorities regardless of politics went along with this approach as it was a Government requirement so to do. It was testing that killed off the 4000 home project at Allington Lane despite HCC pushing hard for it even through to the Borough’s Local Plan Inquiry. The planning inspector agreed with Eastleigh over the County. I fully expect the same process to kill off the SDA. Until we have robust evidence, a planning inspector would ride rough-shod over any attempt by the Borough Council to remove the SDA from what is at the moment a statutory plan. “
On Tuesday night both Maria Hutchings and George Hollingbery for the Conservatives, told voters that their new planning green paper would scrap the entire South East Plan along with the Botley SDA.
Responding Keith House observed:
“(The) new Conservative planning policy announced recently in “Open Source Planning”, their Green Paper, would retain exactly the same numbers for South Hampshire as in the South East Plan, even after scrapping the Plan as a whole. So Conservative opposition is hollow at best and misleading at worst.”
Mr House submitted the following extracts from Council resolution which he claims shows the opposition of the Council to the SDA.
EBC Full Council – October 2005 Resolution
Council supports the approach set out in the report to Cabinet in paragraphs 31 to 33 subject to the comments below and specifically:
1. Rejects the approach adopted by Government that requires district-level housing numbers to be set out in the South East Plan before environmental, social, economic and transport studies have demonstrated where growth can sustainably be located;
2. Until these studies have been completed and analysed –
(i) calls on Hampshire County Council to refuse to put forward district-level housing numbers to the South East Regional Assembly;
(ii) calls on the South East Regional Assembly to refuse to put forward district-level numbers to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; and
(iii) does not endorse the specific targets in paragraphs 31.8 to 31.10
3. On this basis rejects the proposed Strategic Development Area “north/north east of Hedge End”;
4. Notes that the original PUSH vision was to achieve economic growth in South Hampshire to lift prosperity for the existing community of South Hampshire by increasing skills, regenerating older areas, improving transport infrastructure and minimising in-migration to the area;
5. Further notes that the PUSH approach assumes that where greenfield development proves necessary this should be focused on Southampton and Portsmouth through improving transport corridors and, for each city, a balance of growth to the west and east – and notes that the consultation proposals do not achieve this;
6. Restates its commitment to a South Hampshire Green Belt to prevent our towns and villages merging into a ‘Solent City’ and calls on the County Council to support a South Hampshire Green Belt in the South East Plan; and
7. Requests Eastleigh’s Members of Parliament to take up these issues with Government.
EBC Full Council – October 2008 Resolution
“That Council resolves that the schedule of proposed Borough Council responses set out at Appendix 1 to the Head of Regeneration and Planning Policy’s report forms the basis of the Council’s response to the Secretary of State’s Proposed Changes to the draft South East Plan.
Council recognises the concerns of the local community about the imposition by the Government of housing figures and specific locations for development through a top-down planning process that gives little weight to local views, and will work to ensure that if this development is imposed it demands the provision of infrastructure first, strengthened critical success factors, and real respect for the character of the locality and its environment.
Council further resolves that its response reiterates its policy objection, rejecting the proposed Strategic Development Area (SDA) north/north-east of Hedge End, in line with its policy statement of 20 October 2005 noting that,
(i) the proposed change by Government to delete Strategic Gaps from the South East Plan undermines the fundamental PUSH and Eastleigh Borough Council policy to avoid the coalescence of settlements, which in turn challenges the validity of the SDA approach; and that
(ii) technical studies to date have failed to demonstrate that sustainable transport links can be provided from the SDA area of search to Southampton; that environmental concerns can be addressed, and have failed to demonstrate that this location is viable for a sustainable settlement of the size proposed without compromising the separate identity of settlements, in line with the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) Strategy.
It seems to me whoever wins the election, the planned SDA plan at Botley is destined to hit the buffers. Would you agree ?