Doubts over Eastleigh Borough Council’s ability to deliver part of their Local Plan have emerged today after County Council Leader Ken Thornber confirmed that HCC would not be releasing land they own at Woodhouse Lane for a new 1,000 home development and that it would not support the construction of any more than 300 new dwellings on their landholding at Stoneham Park.
The Local Plan which runs from 2011 – 2029, seeks to find provision for an extra 10,000 homes in the borough in order, say EBC, to meet the demands of an expanding local population.
Following a controversial public consultation the council opted to place proposed development sites on green belt land at Stoneham and Botley without the prior agreement of the County Council who own some of the land earmarked for development.
Members of Eastleigh’s opposition Conservative group – who had campaigned against the Local Plan alongside protest groups in Botley and Stoneham – were claiming a victory yesterday.
In a press release Maria Hutchings, Conservative Parliamentary Spokesperson for Eastleigh claimed that the decision by HCC meant that Eastleigh Council would now have to take the Local Plan “back to the drawing board”.
But Eastleigh Leader Keith House said the latest setback was not “a deal breaker”.
“The formal County position is not to release Woodhouse Lane before 2029, though at the decision-making meeting Ken Thornber said to the Lib Dem lead on property, Cllr Adrian Collett, that details could still be “open to discussion”. That process continues”
However, speaking to Eastleigh News this morning Hampshire County Council Leader Ken Thornber insisted:
“Woodhouse lane will not be released in the period between now and 2030. There isn’t any room for negotiation”
Regarding the Stoneham site, Cllr House said both Borough and County staff were working together to bring the site forward “albeit they (the County) may want to limit the amount of housing on their own land”
Although the County Council may have stymied EBC ambitions to build 1,000 homes at Woodhouse Lane it has also announced it would be willing to make land at Winchester Street in Botley, available for up to 200 new homes – in line with the findings of an independent survey of Botley residents views on local housing provision – a proposition campaigners say they are more likely to support.
Cllr Thornber also added:
“We have made it very clear to Cllr House that if he brings forward other pieces of land we will co-operate to the fullest extent in building the infrastructure.”
In her press release Maria Hutchings said:
“Not only have we saved these Greenfield sites but we have also preserved our strategic gaps. Now I ask Eastleigh Borough Council not to cave in to premature applications for house building from developers and also to make full use of every Brownfield site in the constituency”
Referring to Woodhouse Lane she said:
“What concerns me most is that Eastleigh Borough Council knew that this land would not be made available for housing in January 2012, so why has the Council put local residents through such concern and desperation?”
Cllr Thornber was also critical:
“They never consulted us on the fact that Woodhouse Lane would appear – they should not have made assumptions. The decision was always going to be taken by the executive member for Policy and Resources -namely the Leader – so they were premature”
In a remark that both Thornber and Hutchings later described as ‘a threat’ Lib Dem Keith House commented:
“Clearly if Woodhouse Lane does not come forward during the plan period then other land – by definition more controversial and with a greater environmental impact – will have to be developed”
“I imagine residents in the communities concerned will not thank Eastleigh Conservatives!”
See also: Hedge End Blogger