New homes for North Bishopstoke

Area committee approves 10 new homes on urban edge despite concerns for wildlife and parking arrangements.

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The site prior to development. Pic Google

A new ‘backland’ development of ten homes in North Bishopstoke was approved last night during a meeting of Bishopstoke Fair Oak and Horton Heath Local Area Committee held at the Methodist Church on Sedgewick Road.

The homes will built by local builder Regal Homes who specialise in small scale developments on previously developed land. This will necessitate the demolition of three existing bungalows on Stoke Common Road and the provision of a new access road leading into the site from Wilmot Close adjacent to another small development of four homes that Regal have recently constructed.

The controversial planning application had received just one letter of support opposed to thirty-one letters of objection with a similar number of residents attending the meeting.

Bishopstoke Parish Council had also strongly objected to plans but in response, Regal Homes revised its’s original plan by reducing the total number of properties to be built from 16 to 10 and rearranging the site layout.

Two of the planning committee members, Councillor Lou Parker-Jones and Councillor Gin Tidridge also sit on the Parish Council and they were able to take-up some of the Parishes’ concerns with the planning office with environmental issues clearly important for the two Independents who were elected on a platform of opposition to large-scale greenfield development in Bishopstoke.

Cllr Parker-Jones said she was opposed to any work being undertaken that could interfere with nesting birds and requested a condition be added to prevent any possible use by the developer, of netting designed to prevent birds from nesting in trees and hedges.

Cllr Tidridge expressed disappointment that the ecology report did not recommend any mitigation or conservation measures to safeguard the lizards, amphibians and small mammals that live on the site. In addition, both Councillors were concerned that there was insufficient foraging provision for resident badgers.

The independents also said they were disappointed that there would be no social housing provision or contribution to local infrastructure as the revised plans – which now entail building fewer houses – do not necessitate the payment of developer contributions. Cllr Parker Jones said that residents in North Bishopstoke had poor access to public transport and amenities and that the piecemeal development of Bishopstoke through infill building projects did not benefit the area.

As one exasperated resident – who spoke to describe the likley negative impact of the development on parking and traffic movements – asked:

“What do we get out of this?”

The Liberal Democrat committee members – Cllrs Rob Rushton and Michelle Marsh shared many of the independents’ concerns but when it came to the vote the Lib Dems voted in support of the recommendation to permit the Development.

The two Independents voted against it although their fellow Independent, Cllr Ray Dean had been unable to attend the meeting but, in any case, Cllr Dean’s presence would have had no bearing on the outcome, as the Chair, Nicholas Couldrey pointed out – even if Cllr Dean had been present and voted ‘against’ along with his colleagues the Chair would have exercised his casting vote in favour of the application.