Eastleigh council’s cabinet has put forward its latest version of the local plan which will see an extra 1,880 houses built between Fair Oak and Hedge End – 330 houses to the north of Fair Oak, 700 to the west of Horton Heath and 800 at Woodhouse Lane Hedge End.
This was the preferred option out of six that were under consideration on Thursday night (September 26). At the same time the previous, fiercely contested sites included in the original plan – at Chestnut Ave/Stoneham Lane and Boorley Green – remain as part of the plan with the total number of new houses due to be built in the borough by 2029 now revised to 10,140.
Residents in Horton Heath will also get a new primary school and a relief road.
The original draft local plan had stalled over the issue of county council owned land at Stoneham Lane and more particularly Woodhouse Lane, Hedge end.
The Woodhouse Lane site has been the subject of much acrimony between Eastleigh’s Lib Dem borough council and the Conservative controlled county council and was a major source of upset on the hustings during by-election.
Earlier in the week new-broom county council leader Roy Perry reversed the decision his predecessor – Ken Thornber – had made to not release HCC owned land for development.
EBC Leader Cllr Keith House and his cabinet colleagues were full of praise for Roy Perry ,as were other cabinet members who hailed the Tory boss as a “pragmatist”.
Cllr House read from a statement by Cllr Perry:
“This item is one I’ve thought long and hard about. The decision is mine and mine alone and must be taken objectively and conscientiously in the interests of the people of Hampshire. We are not the planning authority, as landowners we do not decide where development goes.”
However this outbreak of harmony between the coalition partners did not extend to Eastleigh Lib Dem Leader Keith House and the leader of Eastleigh’s conservative opposition group Godfrey Olson who addressed the cabinet from the public gallery.
Cllr Olson challenged the number of houses that he plan claims is required and warned:
“If you build 11,000 houses all this will do is encourage greater migration, greater development and greater congestion in an area which is already suffering from difficulties.”
He also suggested:
“If we were to fill up the 1400 empty properties we have in the borough that would go a long way to solving any housing problems to deal with local people.”
As Cllr House responded to Olson’s comments things became heated.
Firstly the two party leaders argued as to if or when it was Ken Thornber had withdrawn Woodhouse Lane and whether or not he was entitled to do so. Then Cllr House berated Olson for attempting to pass off a resident’s survey as a ‘referendum’’ – a process with quasi – legal connotations. (A planning referendum is binding.)
However Cllr Olson had said no such thing.
What he had said regarding Woodhouse Lane was:
“When a survey was done locally 89% of the people voted against it. If you are going out to public consultation and then you are going to ignore it, as you have, shows little value on consultations.”
But Cllr House – who said he had been taking notes – claimed that Cllr Olson had wrongly described the survey as a referendum.
The following exchange occurred:
Cllr House: Councillor you also referred to a referendum where 89% of people voted against this site can you identify what referendum that was?
Cllr Olson: BPAG did that
Cllr House: Ahhh! So it wasn’t a referendum – it was a survey.
Cllr Oslon: It was a survey.
Cllr House: Survey…
Cllr Olson: “Did I say referendum? I doubt it..”
Cllr Fraser: Yes you did (cabinet members nod in agreement)
Cllr Olson: It was a survey and 89% people in the area…
Cllr House: So it was a self selecting survey – it wasn’t a referendum.
Cllr Olson: It was a general survey of the area.
Cllr House: It wasn’t a scientific survey. It was a pressure group survey.
Cllr Olson: It was wider than a scientific survey because it covered a wider number of people
Although the audio playback proves Cllr Olson had never used the word referendum while making his representation it seems several cabinet members had heard him say it.
Cllr Olson’s general point that resident’s own unofficial surveys and polls are likely to be dismissed would seem justified. Potential campaigners in Fair Oak or Horton Heath contemplating such action should take note – you could be wasting your time.
Cllr House then challenged Cllr Olson to substantiate his claims that fewer houses were needed and to explain where new housing should go – fair questions to which Cllr Olson did not have a ready answer but they were delivered in the manner of a prosecuting barrister which led Cllr Olson to complain that he was being ‘cross-examined’ when he had only wished to express an opinion.
As the debate proceeded around the cabinet table it became clear that Option E – the one that included Fair Oak and Horton Heath was the one most favoured by the cabinet.
It should be noted that Cllr Roger Smith – member for Fair Oak and Horton Heath – had declared an interest at the outset of the meeting as he owns land in Horton Heath and had left the room so that he could not take part in any debate or vote.
An option including Hamble, an area Cllr House represents on Hampshire County Council, was rejected out of hand.
Among Hamble’s many attractions is a large disused airfield which some folk might think is suitable for housing development – but the Hamble peninsula is afflicted with traffic access problems. Regular Eastleigh News readers may also recall it was once described as a politically sensitive area for the Lib Dems.
In the end the cabinet voted unanimously to forward the plan for consideration by full council on October 10. This included Cllr Cathie Fraser who along with fellow Botley Councillor Rupert Kyrle had previously voted against the old version of the local plan in opposition to the inclusion of the site at Boorley Green, an area she represents and formerly lived in.
The plan is expected to be rubber stamped by the council after which it will go out to a six week public consultation during which members of the public and other interested parties who had previously commented on the plan will have to re-submit any objections.
The council meeting on October 10 will be open to the public and is expected to be well attended. As he looked forward to the meeting Cllr House observed:
“It will be packed out with neighbours of sites saying why the land next to them shouldn’t be allocated but it won’t be packed out with young people or homeless people because young people who need homes don’t come to council meetings.”
Hedgeendblogger: Tory land flip flop dooms Hedge End fields
See also: Upset for local plan