Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, Cllr Keith House, faced some disgruntled Hedge Enders at the local plan consultation roadshow held in Hedge End Village Hall on 15th November.
Plans to build 1000 new homes on a 53 acre site to the west of Woodhouse Lane, additional developments at Dowds Farm and 100 new homes on a site South of Foord Road have caused much concern in Hedge End. Besides the loss of a significant part of Hedge End’s few remaining green spaces, residents are concerned about the additional congestion that will be created by these new developments and the additional pressure on services such as schools and GP’s.
To address the traffic problems, the plans for Hedge End include a new bypass at Sunday’s Hill near Junction 8 of the M27 plus some unspecified “transport improvements” to Junction 7 and also in the centre of Hedge End.
Whilst those improvements are intended to help reduce congestion, there are also plans for Woodhouse Lane to be upgraded to become part of a new Botley bypass, taking much of the traffic that currently runs through Botley square and potentially shifting the bottleneck from Botley to Hedge End.
The Hedge End roadshow ran from 2pm until 8pm.
Former Town Councillor Jenny Schwausch had noted earlier in the afternoon, that Council staff were disassociating themselves from the politics of this development. Perhaps anticipating the level of anger around Hedge End, they were telling visitors to the roadshow that the decisions on where to build were taken by the Lib Dems for political reasons.
“I asked [the planners] if it was a done deal and both said that if enough people make objections, maybe things could be changed.”
Cllr House attended the roadshow in the evening, and took questions from the visitors to the exhibition, attempting to explain the politics behind those decisions.
One interesting line of questioning, raised by Conservative campaigner Paul Redding, concerned Council Housing.
Clearly appreciating the irony that it was a previous Conservative Government that forced Local Authorities to sell off Council Houses, Paul asked a series of questions;
Redding: Why don’t we build modern style Council Houses..?
House: We’d love to build Council homes if there was the cash to do so, but Governments stopped funding Councils in this way 30 years ago.
Redding: Why don’t you divert money from the Rose Bowl Hotel to pay for it..?
House: the Rose Bowl pays for itself as it will have rental income from the hotel to help protect services from cuts and keep Council Tax frozen.
Redding: Why won’t you consider the Council House option further. It would be better and quicker for those on the waiting list. The local plan only allocates 35% of the homes built for social needs..?
House: We’d love to build Council Homes, but nowadays work to help Housing Associations build Social Housing.
Cllr House was also asked about a way of easing the traffic congestion at the two motorway junctions in Hedge End.
Redding: What about an extra Motorway junction at the bottom of Allington Lane..?
House: The Government would not allow it, as they see the Motorway as mainly being for long-distance journeys, not as a Southampton by-pass.
Residents who were unable to attend the Hedge End roadshow still have other opportunities to attend one of these events. The consultation closes on 3rd January. Comments can be supplied to Eastleigh Borough Council online, via Email or via post.
The draft plan and details of how to supply comments can be found here on the Eastleigh Borough Council website.