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Hampshire approves updated strategic land strategy

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

At his Decision Day meeting yesterday (24 September 2013), Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry approved recommendations relating to strategic land sites.

On taking his decision, Cllr Perry said: "This item is one I have thought long and hard about, and have sought advice from officers and from colleagues. I am only too conscious the decision is mine and mine alone, and must be taken objectively and conscientiously in the interests of people of Hampshire.

"I often say I only joined Hampshire County Council because it is not a Planning Authority, except for waste and minerals, and that alone is tough enough. It is indeed important to remember we are not a planning authority - that is the prerogative of the district councils, in this case Eastleigh. We are land owners but we do not decide where development is to go.

"There was a never a more true saying, that you cannot please all of the people all of the time and all three main Party Leaders are emphasising the urgent need for more houses. I have not checked against delivery but I think I read a report about the Labour conference where Ed Miliband has called for 200,000 extra houses a year and criticised the holding of land banks. In another speech it was said we have a situation where everyone recognises we need more houses but wherever a site is proposed, the local community says'...but not here'.

"This is not an issue that divides Parties, all see it as a priority, but it divides those who are comfortably housed and those who just want a foot on the housing ladder, or on the next rung up.

"Fortunately Hampshire is not a Planning Authority. Where houses are to be built is a matter for the districts. Eastleigh Borough Council and Cllr House have formally asked again, will we make land to the west of Woodhouse Lane available.

"I know my predecessor made a decision in 2012 that at that stage, we would not make it available. Since then we have the renewed request from Cllr House and Eastleigh, and the duty to co-operate.

"We have the now adopted National Planning Policy Framework and countless further admonitions from Ministers, nor can I dismiss the revised financial calculations and issues at Manydown. I am also conscious that if Eastleigh does not soon meet its land availability requirements the ability of neighbouring districts to prevent undesirable development could be threatened.

"I am also aware that permission has been given at Boorley Green, so this area is going to change in character in any event. Also the number of houses Eastleigh Borough Council has to provide will not go away, so if development is not here, then where?

"What is clear however is the area to the East of Woodhouse Lane will become crucial for retaining a 'gap' between Hedge End and Botley. As landowners we can be much more influential in the nature and character of development than speculative developers, and if there is to be development, I would much rather it was of good quality that fits into Hampshire.

"I am also only too aware of the pressures Hampshire people face with more children, and the demand for thousands of extra school places, as well as more and more elderly and demand for adult care provision. We have already committed £45million, but know more will be needed. There is also the need for roads and other infrastructure and all of these require money.

Having thought these matters through, the following decisions are taken:

1) That in respect of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's Pre-submission Draft Plan, the County Council, as landowner, makes formal representations, including objections, during the consultation period in relation to the draft policies affecting its land holdings at Cufaude Farm, Swing Swang Lane and Manydown.

2) That should a Local Plan allocation at Manydown be secured, suitable governance arrangements with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council be agreed with the Executive Members for Policy and Resources and Income and Capital.

3) That the County Council confirms its earlier decision of 25 October 2012 to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, that land to the east of Basingstoke will be made available for potential development on a phased basis during the current plan period and the subsequent (beyond 2031) plan period.

4) That the County Council advises Eastleigh Borough Council that, in view of their revised site allocation of up to 800 dwellings at Woodhouse Lane, Hedge End, it will make its land available for potential development, subject to the normal approval processes relating to the disposal of County Council land and satisfactory landscape and development proposals coming forward.

5) That the County Council further advises Eastleigh Borough Council that officers from both authorities open discussions on the potential for a higher allocation of dwellings, up to 580, on its land south of Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh. This will enable full consideration to be given to the impact on adjoining rural areas of Southampton and the potential to restore and protect the historic Capability Brown landscape and in particular to show how any future layout will complement the adjacent Forest Park proposals and maintain a rural gap on this fringe of Southampton. A further report will be brought forward for consideration by the Executive Member for Policy and Resources at a future meeting.

6) That the County Council reaffirms the availability of its land south of Kings Copse Avenue, Hedge End, to Eastleigh Borough Council.

7) That the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader and the Director of Corporate Resources, develops suitable project delivery arrangements for its land in Whitehill/Bordon and where appropriate, helps fund necessary infrastructure-related work and design.

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