Land near Hamble Station was saved from development this evening, for the moment at least, as the Bursledon, Hamble Le-Rice and Hound Local Area Committee rejected a ‘hostile’ planning application to develop up to 225 new homes, a 60 bed Care Home, a 40 bed extra care unit and a new car park on the 22 Hectare site.
In the event, the six Borough Councillors who were present had a very easy ride. The planning application was not a full and detailed one, but merely sought agreement on the planning principles for this site. During their presentation, it was clear that the Planning Dept at Eastleigh Borough Council had given the Councillors every opportunity to reject the application. There was subsequently no confrontation with the 200 residents who filled the hall at Hamble Primary School, as on this occasion everybody was in agreement. Nobody spoke in favour of the development, not even the developers [Hallam Land Management Ltd] who were conspicuous by their absence.
The planning application was deemed ‘hostile’ as this particular site is not allocated for development in the Borough Council’s new local plan. Although it is still at least a year away from being formally adopted by Eastleigh Borough Council, the new local plan decrees that new homes should be built in other places around the Borough whilst the good quality agricultural land on the Hamble Lane site should remain part of an important strategic gap.
To anybody who had attended similar LAC meetings in other parts of the Borough, many of the arguments put forward as reasons not to develop on this site at Hamble were very familiar indeed. They included;
- Traffic congestion & highways issues
- Additional pressure on existing hard-pressed infrastructure, schools, GP’s etc
- Loss of important green fields & open spaces in the strategic gap
- Drainage /sewerage issues
- Air quality & other environmental issues
- The three-storey houses being completely inappropriate for this site
The difference this time, was that these familiar arguments were also being made by the Planning Officer and the Borough Councillors, not just by concerned members of the public. Only a couple of weeks ago, in the same school hall, we saw the exact opposite happen as the Planning Officers left the Councillors no room to refuse planning applications in Netley and Bursledon, arguing that all of the possible reasons to refuse to develop on those two sites [n.b. which are included in the new local plan] had been adequately covered. In that meeting, the objections from members of the public were politely acknowledged, but ultimately swept aside…
In addition to the familiar arguments, two very important site specific reasons for refusing this planning application at Hamble station were;
- an objection from Hampshire County Council, to the effect that development could ‘potentially sterilize mineral resources‘. Plans to extract gravel from the former Hamble airfield site have not been popular in Hamble, but the possibility of similar mineral resources on the Hamble Station site worked in the residents favour this evening.
- various objections from the Highways Dept. One member of the public also observed that the proposed development includes a new roundabout at a well known accident blackspot, shortly after the crest of the humpback bridge over the railway line, adding that it was completely the wrong place to site the access point to this development.
Also revealed in the presentation, was that Eastleigh Borough Council now has sufficient deliverable schemes for its 5 year housing supply. Consequently, the proposed development at Hamble station was not required in order to meet that need.
After successfully rejecting the unwanted ‘hostile’ development, normal service was resumed at the Hamble LAC meeting as all of the other planning applications on the agenda were unanimously approved. This included one controversial infill development in Station Rd Netley, where three new 2-bed terrace homes to be built behind the former Aqua-Rio shop would seriously overlook the existing residents back gardens and living spaces.
Despite the residents appeal to the Council, the application was approved with the Councillors clearly of the mind that if they rejected this application, the developers would appeal and the Borough Council would not be able to successfully defend their decision. The residents left the meeting disappointed.
Two other planning applications, concerning the conversion of the former care home at Abbots Lodge in Netley into residential accommodation, showed the residents at neighbouring Netley Castle working closely with the developers [and vice-versa] to resolve most of the problems before the planning application was presented to the LAC. This level of co-operation was praised by the Councillors, who subsequently managed to extract another small concession from the developer, regarding a cycle barrier. Councillors were also pleased that some of the original features of Abbots Lodge, a listed building, would be re-instated.
The one big concern that remained for the residents of Netley Castle, was a long-standing drainage problem. In the recent heavy rain, a significant part of the site was flooded. Despite the flooding being accepted as a problem, and Cllr David Airey noting that the flooded area recently included an electricity substation, the residents request for a new drain to take the excess surface water into Southampton Water fell on largely deaf ears, with environmental issues / pollution being the main cause of the deafness. The Developers said that the existing soakaways were in good condition and were working, they committed to check them, but in the absence of any pressure from the Councillors, there was no commitment to do any more than that.
Overall, this fascinating Local Area Committee meeting demonstrated many different aspects of the planning process. Most of the 200 Hamble residents went home happy, but it remains to be seen if the developers will appeal the Borough Council’s decision to reject their proposed development at Hamble Station.
We may be reporting on this again…!