Protestors brought the centre of Botley to a standstill at lunchtime today.
Such protests are rare in this part of the world, but temporary road closures were in place to allow a march organised by the Botley Parish Action Group to protest against the developments that are proposed in Eastleigh Borough Council’s new local plan.
The plan has been through various phases of consultation over the last 18 months, but is currently in some difficulty with Eastleigh Borough Council reporting on their website that;
Following the consultation on the pre-submission Local Plan the Council’s intention was to progress the Local Plan to examination in 2013. However, a small number of representations have raised issues that mean we have to reconsider some of the Local Plan’s proposals.
In particular, the County Council in its capacity as landowner has stated that its land west of Woodhouse Lane, Hedge End will not be made available for development during the plan period.
In addition, concerns have been expressed by the Highways Agency about the transport assessment undertaken for the Plan and the County Council’s acceptance of that assessment in its present form.
The Borough Council is reviewing its position and discussing these representations with HCC as landowner, HCC as the highway authority and the Highways Agency.
It is likely that alternative housing sites will have to be found, and further transport assessment work undertaken.
Todays protest further highlighted many residents concerns about the proposed development of 1700 new homes locally and the consequences of extra traffic in an area that is already very busy and routinely gridlocked if there is a problem on the Motorway.
As illustrated by the banner at the head of the march, and the chant of “Eastleigh Council, Please Listen”, the protestors clearly felt that their concerns about the proposed development had been ignored by the Borough Council.
Speaking to Eastleigh News after the march, the Conservative spokesperson for Eastleigh, Maria Hutchings explained;
“These people elect us. It is imperative that their voices are heard”
Opinion from local traders was mixed, with one shopkeeper declining to comment and an assistant from another store saying;
Clearly the march is bad news for us. If people have travelled some distance to visit us, they’re likely to go elsewhere if the square is closed.
The most immediate impact by the march was clearly the disruption that was caused to local traffic, diverted off the main road through the village and around residential streets at the busiest time of a Saturday.
With some shouting and gesticulating directed at the unfortunate stewards, because of queues and delays caused by the parked cars in Winchester Street and elsewhere, the temporary road closure clearly caused some travellers a problem…
Somewhat ironically perhaps, the protest against the traffic chaos that would be caused by the Borough Council’s proposals to over-develop the area, had caused some traffic chaos of its own.
As requested, the protestors dispersed quickly and in a well rehearsed routine the road through the village was re-opened by 12:30 and the disruption was kept to a minimum.