John Denham has branded Eastleigh Borough Council Leader Keith House as inconsistent on green belt development and in a stinging attack has challenged him to explain his support for building at Stoneham Park.
The Labour MP for Southampton Itchen was in Eastleigh over the weekend campaigning on behalf of PCC candidate Jacqui Rayment. While here he took some time out to take a look at the historic Stoneham Park site which has been earmarked for 1,300 houses under EBC’s Local Plan – despite strong local opposition.
Objectors maintain not all brown field options have been pursued first.
Eastleigh News asked Mr Denham how he felt about the prospect of Eastleigh Council allowing building right up to his constituency boundary, and he replied
“I like to see Consistency from politicians. I can remember when Southampton Football Club was trying to have a football stadium built the other side of the motorway and Eastleigh Council said there was no way there should be any development because this green belt (Stoneham) is absolutely sacrosanct.
“Now, we have the same leader of Eastleigh Council we had then, so we have to ask.
“What made you change your mind?”.
The former cabinet minister also expressed doubts that all brown field options had been exhausted:
“Clearly homes have got to be built and the first point of call should be land that has already been developed n the past – so called brown field sites.
“Very often you see sites like this go first because they are cheaper and easier to do
“Building has got to take place – but are we really using the land that has already been built on first?”
Mr Denham said the government should be investing in a house building programme and that a Labour Government would use the revenue from auctioning telephone licences to build 100,000 affordable homes.
Eastleigh News asked Council Leader Keith House for a response and he rejected the idea that there had been any change of policy on use of green belt land:
“John doesn’t grasp the geography. We still oppose development in the gap south of the motorway.
“The gap north of the motorway will include Lakeside, swathes of playing fields and vast woodland south of Stoneham.
” Pull the other one John!”
Mr Denham is not the only high profile politician to visit the Stoneham site recently. There have been visits from the leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett and also Maria Hutchings – the Conservative Parliamentary Spokesperson for Eastleigh.
One Stoneham Park protester observed:
“It’s a shame our own MP can’t come to Stoneham and show a bit of interest – although we do understand if he is busy at the moment”