Hundreds protest at Local Plan hearing

'We are focused on winning' says protest group ADD as Planing Inspector begins examination of housing plans


Pic: ADD

Hundreds of campaigners, along with local TV crews, converged on the Botleigh Grange Hotel yesterday morning as Action Against Destructive Development (ADD) staged a demonstration on the second day of the public examination of Eastleigh’s Council’s Local Plan.

Organisers estimated 400 hundred people had braved the rain to attend the early morning “show of strength” as residents from Eastleigh’s Northern and Winchester’s Southern parishes united in opposition to council plans to build thousands of new homes and a motorway link road in countryside just North of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak.  It was reported that so many people had turned up, some were forced to park at the Ageas bowl two miles away.

The government requires all local planning authorities to submit ‘objectively assessed’ plans for sufficient housing to meet current and future demand in their area.  Eastleigh’s plan, if approved, will determine the location, numbers and types of development in the Borough until 2036. Without a plan in place it is difficult for the authority to resist ‘hostile’ planning applications that the council or residents might otherwise deem as unsuitable.

The public hearings will consider the soundness of the plan and are scheduled to continue into the New Year after which the Planning Inspector will send a report to Eastleigh Borough Council recommending whether or not the plan can be adopted or whether or not the council should make changes to it.

It was at this stage in 2014 that the Planning Inspector warned the Council that the draft plan they had submitted would be found ‘unsound’ due to a lack of flexibility in housing targets – there were not enough affordable housing units and an insufficient land supply. This prompted the council to withdraw the plan and start over.

This time the council say they have planned sufficient headroom for housing demand and are confident the plan can be adopted.

(A copy of the plan submission and supporting documents can be found on the Council’s website here.)

However, a spokesperson For ADD told Eastleigh News they believed the current plan is “flawed in a number of ways” and would fail again on “appalling” housing provision:

“Although it’s going to provide housing it’s going to provide the wrong sort of housing with executive estates for people who don’t even currently live in Eastleigh. Building £400,000 three bed houses isn’t going to help local first-time buyers onto the property ladder and there is no provision for housing for the elderly which is badly needed in Eastleigh.”

ADD say they have a £100k war chest to fund their legal team and were confident they can persuade the Planning Inspector that the Council’s plan is not only unsound in terms of it’s revised housing targets but also in respect of the provision of public transport; increased traffic congestion; CO2 emissions and the environmental impact on the River Itchen and adjoining ancient woodlands.

When asked if ADD had thought about the future of their campaign should the Planning Inspector find in the council’s favour the spokesperson replied:

“We are very confident the evidence is overwhelmingly in our favour. We are focused on winning.”

ADD’s campaign website can be found here.

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