It was standing room only at Botley primary school last Tuesday as the Parish Council called a public meeting as a “first stage in a community wide consultation to identify the changing needs of the community over the next five to ten years”.
Up to 100 Botley residents, who have only just fought off plans for a 6000 home development, crammed the hall to find out exactly what could be in store for them now centralised planning had been scrapped.
Chairman of the Parish council Colin Mercer had used a leaflet to warn villagers that:
“Staying as we are is not a realistic option for Botley”
“Initial assessments and views suggest between 500 and 1000 houses over a decade would be viable in balancing our community.”
Feelings had run high during the campaign to scrap the Botley S.A.D and so a PCSO was in attendance…but was not needed.
The meeting started with Joanna Dixon, Senior Rural Officer for Community Action Hampshire who gave a talk on community led planning and the process. She stressed that it is community led and coordinated by volunteers. It is a plan that is generated by the people for the people and can be very powerful in telling councils what the residents want on all aspects of the village way of life… not just housing.
With the floor open to questions Councillor Mercer was asked to justify the number of 500 – 1000 extra houses in Botley over the next 10 years which would see the village grow by 50% and was also challenged on the building of the Botley Bypass.
While residents expressed the view it is still years away, Cllr Mercer stated he thought it would be built within two years.
It was suggested that a local referendum should take place on the Community Plan which the Chairman thought it would be a good idea
Questions were also asked on why Botley has to have the same demographic plan mix as Hedge End and many residents expressed concern that community led planning could be subject to interference from the Councils involved.
Jon Riddell the local area coordinator for HEWEB addressed this concern using West End, where the community have completed their plan, as an example.
The meeting closed with residents being asked to put their names forward to volunteer to be on the various committees and in what areas of interest.
Photo ©Peter Facey