Some of the land that is allocated for development in Eastleigh’s new local plan took another step closer to the bulldozer this evening, as the Bursledon, Hamble-Le-Rice and Hound Local Area Committee approved (subject to various conditions) the outline planning applications for two significant developments on land that was formerly part of a ‘strategic gap’ .
Although Eastleigh’s new local plan has still to go before the planning inspector and has yet to be formally adopted by Eastleigh Borough Council, outline planning applications to develop on the sites that are included in the new local plan are already being put before these Local Area Committees.
The Bursledon, Hamble-Le-Rice and Hound Local Area Committee is formed from the seven Borough Councillors who represent that area, but as two of the seven members of this LAC were absent this evening, the decisions on these planning applications were taken by just five Borough Councillors.
As Cllr Godfrey Olson had observed in the Budget meeting on Tuesday evening, because Eastleigh uses this system of Local Area Committees all of the other 37 Borough Councillors [including the opposition] were effectively excluded from this formal stage of the decision-making process. However, that exclusion also included the leader of Eastleigh Borough Council and the County Cllr for Hamble, Cllr Keith House, who sat in the public gallery this evening and made no contribution to the meeting.
With the opening announcements and a Dibleyesque ‘Public Questions’ session out of the way, the committee finally got down to the main business of the evening.
The first planning application was for a site in Netley, bounded by Grange Road, Woolston Road and the railway line. The report presented to the Committee noted that;
“This application has been referred to members as its location, outside the urban edge, is contrary to the adopted Eastleigh Borough Local Plan Review (2001-11) (although in accordance with the emerging Local Plan) “
During the presentation, it emerged that the number of homes proposed in this outline application was less than the number being proposed in the new local plan. This was partly because of the shape of the site, but mainly because of an additional requirement to build a footbridge over the railway line. The proposal being considered this evening was for 80 dwellings (instead of 90 in the local plan) and 5 industrial units. 35% of the new homes will be affordable housing, which the report claims will ‘support social well-being through the provision of a mixed and balanced community’
Also during the presentation, it was said that the new class B1 Industrial Units would be a great improvement on the existing use of the land, which is essentially unregulated. Only certain types of resident-friendly industries (minimal noise/smells etc) will be able to use these new units in future.
Connection to the existing sewerage system was also a concern with this planning application. The local sewers are already at full capacity and the developers are aware that a long-run is needed to connect this new development to the next point of convenience, where there is some spare capacity.
One member of the public mentioned the dangerous junction at the cross roads of Grange Road and Woolston Road, which has seen many accidents over the years. The Planning Officer replied that Hampshire County Council didn’t share that concern, so it wasn’t a reason to reject the application. Later in the meeting, when discussing a different application, Cllr David Airey observed that if the Highways Dept & Hampshire County Council don’t have any issues with the road layout, traffic volume etc, the rules that govern these planning decisions are such that the Borough Councillors cannot refuse on those grounds, even if they wanted to…
During the Committee members debate, Cllr Airey and Cllr Cross were very supportive indeed of the need for a new footbridge, with Cllr Airey saying;
“I pressed and pressed and pressed for a bridge over the railway. There must be a safe walking route.”
The qualitative value of the land was also discussed, with Cllr Airey saying;
“Its not scenic countryside and doesn’t add to the local gap. Its development doesn’t detract from the local gap. ”
“It is not particularly special countryside”
Cllr Cross supported that view, saying;
“It is not an attractive site. The development will be a great improvement.”
After the discussion, all of the Councillors present voted in favour of the planning application.
The second significant planning application of the evening was for land bounded by Dodwell Lane, Blundell Lane and the Motorway, a difficult site which one member of the public observed;
“Is a unique area which has been isolated for 40 years. The last untouched area in Bursledon Parish”.
Here too, the outline planning application was for fewer new homes than listed in the local plan, although one small section of land which is included in this area [ref BU2] in the local plan is not a part of this planning application.
Several streams run through this site and another part of it is a floodplain. The Planning Officer explained that no houses were going to be built on the floodplain and that a lot of work had been done to address the ‘significant’ drainage problem, which would include the creation of new ponds and wetland areas.
The additional vehicle movements, which would add to the congestion and occasional gridlock on the A27, were a concern to everybody present, but with Hampshire County Council assessing the impact of this proposed development as ‘slight’ rather than ‘severe’, the planning application could not be refused on those grounds.
One aspect of this application that was particularly attractive to the committee members was that it could be delivered within 5 years, thus improving the Borough’s 5 year housing supply. Cllr O’Sullivan observed;
“This development provides some much needed housing. If outline planning permission is not granted, what then?”
Cllr Cross [n.b. also the current Mayor of Eastleigh] asked about the timing of the improvements to road junctions and pedestrian refuges on the A27, suggesting that they should be installed before any building on the site. Cllr Cross wasn’t satisfied with the initial response from the Planning Officer, dug his heels in and insisted that the improvements were needed first. The conversation was rapidly approaching chicken & egg territory, i.e. which comes first – the road/pavement improvements or the extra road/pavement users ?, but harmony was restored when the Planning Officer explained that the improvements would be required ‘before occupation’.
Discussions over, this outline planning application was also approved unanimously.
By now, most of the 25 people in the public gallery had left, many of whom it transpired were representatives of the developers rather than members of the public…
There were subsequently a few other minor planning applications to deal with.
An application for one infill site in Hunt Avenue, Netley, the subject of various planning applications which date back to 2002, all previously refused, was permitted on this occasion.
Another application for an extension to a listed property on a site in Bursledon was permitted, despite Bursledon Parish Council having previously rejected it. The proposer and seconder for this application, Cllr O’Sullivan and Cllr Craig, both said they had looked carefully at the site and had concluded that the visual impact of the proposed development would be negligible.
The next meeting of the Bursledon, Hamble-le Rice and Hound Local Area Committee will take place on 13th March, where the application for the Lib Dems ‘unwanted development’ which is not in the new local plan, near Hamble Railway station, is scheduled to be discussed.