Draft plans which earmark Hamble airfield as the preferred site for gravel extraction and Boorley Green as the preferred site for 1300 homes were approved today (October 13)at at separate meeting of Conservative led Hampshire County Council and Lib Dem controlled Eastleigh Borough Council – despite the opposition of local residents and pressure groups.
Both chambers were left in no doubt as to the extent of residents’ fears regarding the impact the development would have on their quality of life with increased competition for services, traffic congestion, pollution, and damage to the local ecology – campaigners in Botley say that 97% of Boorley Green residents are opposed to the proposals to site 1300 new dwellings on the golf course..
However protestors were told, that cutting across all arguments , the councils had a statutory duty to provide housing in South Hampshire and the gravel and sand to build them with.
Not having a plan in place would lead to arbitrary development with planning inspectors told to presume in favour of development both councils maintained.
While both the Borough and County council share a common purpose in delivering their obligations under the South East Plan (the Regional Spatial Strategy which is currently being re-branded by the DCLG) the minority group in each chamber have decided to vote against each other’s plans.
Lib Dem county councillors voted against the ‘Tory’ gravel extraction plans while the Borough conservatives were joined by independents to vote against the proposed ‘Lib Dem’ housing scheme although neither vote had any chance of causing an upset.
Meanwhile at grassroots level political activists have abandoned party lines and to campaign against development their own backyards
Maria Hutchings, a conservative Parliamentary Spokesperson. has voiced her opposition to both gravel extraction at Hamble and housing development at Boorley and Lib Dem Cllr Rupert Kyrle who represents Botley at Parish, Borough and County Council level has also consistently voted against both the proposals every opportunity .
The Deputy Mayor has been joined by fellow Botley councillor and Lib Dem rebel Cathie Fraser (herself a Boorley Green resident) as the only two Lib Dems to vote against the plan dubbed ‘Son of SDA.’
Predictably, and despite the seriousness of the threat posed to the continued integrity of existing local communities there has been outbreak of point scoring and mudslinging with Conservatives accusing ‘Born again’ nimbys Cllr Kyrle and Cllr Fraser of being somehow disingenuous in their support while local Lib Dems have accused County Conservatives of being in league with house builder Persimmon, the owners of the gravel site at Hamble airfield.
Both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have simultaneously published flyers claiming they have ‘saved’ Botley from development.
Meanwhile as the anti development campaign fractures across political and local area fault lines, and despite claims of victory, the successor to the South East plan is steadily moving forward on to its next phase as result of the October 13 vote – and is a step closer to being foisted upon an unwilling local populace too disunited and demoralised at the moment to offer credible resistance.
From today, October 28, EBC will hold a nine week public consultation into the Housing proposals while HCC will hold a 6 week consultation into the Gravel extraction plans from November.
Locals will be able to comment on the plans but will not be able to veto any part of it.
see also: Hedge End Blogger Lib Dems Lied