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Fungus walk in Otterbourne woods, 24 November – cancelled

ADD UPDATE, 14 November 2018: As some of our supporters are aware, Rob Byrne, a local resident, has been been planning a guided walk in Otterbourne Woods with a fungus expert on 24 November. We have been asked to let people know that sadly this event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Given the success of a similar ‘bat walk’ in September, we hope other such events will be arranged in the future.

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Eastleigh council formally adopts Local Plan – all eyes turn to Planning Inspector

ADD UPDATE, 21 October 2018: At a meeting last Thursday Eastleigh Borough Council voted to approve its Local Plan, despite all the holes identified by locals and expert bodies during the consultation period over the summer. This Plan, which includes proposals for 5,300 new houses on the green fields between Colden Common, Upham, Fair Oak and Bishopstoke, will now be sent to Whitehall for scrutiny by an independent Planning Inspector.

John Lauwerys, chair of ADD, spoke at Thursday’s meeting. For the benefit of our many supporters, we share his summary and his speech below.

 SUMMARY OF THE MEETING

 “I attended the council meeting on Thursday 18 October. There weren’t many people in the audience. Eastleigh Lib Dems, under their leader Keith House, had clearly been told not to speak on the Local Plan so none did apart from the Great Leader himself! ADD did not seek to encourage supporters to attend, expecting it to be a foregone conclusion that councillors would rubber stamp their leader’s flawed Plan. 

As previously, the council failed to listen to anything. I gave my speech [below], as did two others, but we may as well not have done. The council then agreed to approve the draft Local Plan for submission to Whitehall – for the record by 25 votes (all Lib Dem) to 7 (4 Conservative; 3 Independent). 

Gin Tidridge, an Independent Councillor, tried – without success – to argue that because not all the evidence was complete and the representations had not been made available to the councillors five days before the meeting, progress on the Local Plan should only be ‘noted’. I think this will now be added to the growing list of procedural faults made by the council, which might persuade the Planning Inspector that the plan process is not legally compliant.

If this Plan fails, councillors will only have themselves to blame. They have listened to no one bar Keith House and steamrolled it through. Their judgement day awaits. 

Meanwhile, we continue to build our case for the Planning Inspector, who we anticipate – once appointed – will hold his/her enquiry in February/March next year. We will now embark on our final fundraising push so that we can hire the best possible consultants to help us consign this appalling Plan to the dustbin of history.”

ADD CHAIR’S SPEECH

“Mr Mayor, Members of the Council,

I am speaking on behalf of ADD, Action against Destructive Development.

It is nearly three years since the Council issued its Issues and Options paper which was intended to be the Regulation 18 consultation for the new Local Plan running to 2036. Inevitably the most controversial part of the Plan would be about the number and location of the additional housing the Council would need to provide to meet government targets. The Council has settled on a figure of 14,580 required between 2016 and 2036. Of this total all but 4,020 dwellings have been identified as deliverable through sites on which planning permission has been granted etc. The majority of the balance needed, 3,350 dwellings, were to be found through a major Strategic Development Option (SGO) which the Council itself narrowed down to either options B/C or options D/E. The final decision on which to choose was to be taken on the basis of objective evidence and in response to the views of the public.

The position the Council is in now is frankly surreal! 

Despite lacking any objective evidence to support the choice, last December the Council confirmed that options B/C should be chosen to deliver eventually 5,300 houses with the construction of a new North Bishopstoke Link Road. Note that this option choice commits the Borough to build 2,000 more houses beyond 2036 into a quite uncertain future and these dwellings would HAVE to be built if the cost of the expensive new road is to be recovered from the developers. Moreover the recent Office of National Statistics population and households projections for 2036 have been revised down and show Eastleigh is expected to require just over 3,000 fewer households than previously estimated. This is referred to in paragraph 30 of your cover paper but no reduction is proposed to the housing targets built into the Local Plan. New government guidance on housing targets is promised soon but is it sensible to choose an SGO now which MUST deliver an eventual hugely greater number of houses than any targets require for Eastleigh’s benefit?

It is also quite clear this is not what local people want. The first consultation on the Issues and Options paper produced 592 objections to options B/C with just 25 in favour. In contrast 96 were opposed to options D/E and 65 in favour. The massive unpopularity of the options that the Council’s leadership is insistent on driving through is again shown by the response to the just completed Regulation 19 consultation. Of the total of 927 responses to the draft Plan 766 were opposed to options B/C and the new link road. If there were any remaining doubt on the part of councillors about the rejection of this choice of SGO, this would have been removed by the largest ever attendance by members of the public at the Council meeting last December when about 800 people came on a wet and cold night to show their opposition to the chosen draft Local Plan.

And this evening bizarrely you are being asked formally to approve a Plan without even having had the opportunity to read the representations made under the Regulation 19 consultation. The paper summarising the responses is woefully inadequate in giving councillors an indication of what has been said by the many respondents. So for example you are not being told that The Environment Agency ‘feels the plan is unsound in its current form’; that Natural England has ‘serious concerns that the development allocation (options B/C) will cause irreparable damage to some or all of the woodlands particularly Stoke Common Woods’; that Hampshire County Council regards the chosen SGO as an ‘isolated site… not in an inherently sustainable location’.

But of course the key decision on the soundness of the Plan fortunately rests with the Planning Inspector, soon to be appointed, who will hold an Examination in Public early next year. The ADD campaign has the support of thousands of local people who are determined to see a wrong headed Plan rejected. And by having already donated over £100,000 they have made it possible to appoint a full range of specialist consultants, together with a planning barrister, to expose the flaws in the draft Plan you are asked to adopt this evening.

Thank you councillors for you for your attention.”

John Lauwerys, ADD chair
18 October 2018

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Eastleigh’s Local Plan: what happens next?

ADD UPDATE, 28 September 2018: We are hugely grateful to all those supporters who objected to the Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) draft Local Plan in the summer or have helped us in other ways. We have been really encouraged by the massive number of objections and by their breadth and quality. True to form, EBC is delaying their publication until the last possible moment. We do know, though, that they include several statutory consultees such as the Environment Agency and Winchester City Council, both of whom declared Eastleigh’s Plan unsound.

We are even more convinced that we can defeat this cynical scheme, which would cause massive damage to the environment and a huge increase in traffic congestion without actually helping Eastleigh families onto the housing ladder. Although things have gone quiet for the time being, ADD is working hard behind the scenes for the next stages of this long-running saga.

So, what happens now?

EBC has said it will submit its Plan (known as the Deposit Draft) to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government at the end of October. At the same time, it will have to publish all the representations it received during the summer consultation period, together with its reactions to these submissions.

We believe EBC will have a real problem in addressing the shortcomings of its Plan, but that it will ‘steam on’ regardless of the evidence. ADD and its advisers, meanwhile, will be going through EBC’s Deposit Draft in detail. If the past is any guide, there are certain to be inconsistencies and distortions, and it is part of our job to identify and highlight them.

Shortly after the ministry receives the Deposit Draft, it will appoint a Planning Inspector to examine the enormous amount of evidence. This will be the first time the Plan faces independent scrutiny. The Inspector is likely to hold a ‘Pre Examination’ meeting to determine the main contentious issues. There will then be an ‘Examination in Public’, probably in February/March. ADD and others who made representations, and who asked to provide supplementary evidence at the examination, will do so.

The Planning Inspector’s decision is expected next summer. We will then know if the council can go ahead with proposals that are so widely opposed by local communities and expert organisations alike.

So, this examination is the crunch point, and it will determine success or failure. ADD will need the continued support of our planning, transport, environmental and legal advisers, including our QC, up to and during the examination. And it will cost money.

Money matters

Last year we set ourselves the goal of raising £100,000 to fight these shocking proposals as forcefully as possible. Thanks to many generous supporters, we have so far raised £65,000 – funds that were vital in enabling us to submit such a robust objection to Eastleigh’s Plan in the summer.

Working to our original budget, we now need a final £35,000 to allow us to finish the job. If you have not yet given to the cause, or feel able to give more, please do so. This is a community-wide campaign and we need every member of the community to contribute. If you would like to donate, please click here.

To get an idea of what the money can do, please click here to see our submission to the inquiry. We hope you will agree it is comprehensive and professional. So, thanks again for all your magnificent support. With your continued help, we really can consign options B and C to the dustbin of history!

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Eastleigh’s Local Plan – we can definitely win this battle

ADD UPDATE, 11 August 2018 – A message to all supporters now the pre-submission consultation period is over:

A big ‘thank you’ to the hundreds of residents who’ve shown their support for ADD during this crucial time – especially those who’ve registered objections to the Local Plan during the recent consultation period and contributed to our fighting fund.

We know that many supporters found the Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) website incredibly frustrating, with an estimated 500 people unable to log their comments at one stage. We really appreciate the patience and perseverance of all those who persisted until they were successful.

Links to ADD’s response to the consultation, which like everyone else’s will be sent to the planning inspector, are below. You’ll see that it’s wide-ranging and extensive, and draws on the evidence of an impressive array of consultants and other experts, all pulled together by our planning consultant and planning barrister.

It has been incredibly hard work, much of it carried out by unpaid volunteers. However, it has left us even more convinced that there are big gaps, inaccuracies and contradictions in EBC’s evidence base, as well as serious flaws in their processes.

We can demonstrate there are better, less destructive ways to meet Eastleigh’s housing targets. The current Local Plan will do virtually nothing to help local people find homes. It will, though, mean handsome profits for the developers – £250 million according to an EBC study.

In short, we are buoyed by the tremendous and growing level of local support and the strength of our case – and the realisation that we can win this battle.

Our main focus now is on the planning inquiry itself, likely to be next summer. The progress we have made so far has been possible only thanks to the generosity of the public. Without your donations we could never have engaged the professional support that has been so essential to our work. The studies they have produced are below; you’ll see they are of the highest quality.

We still need approximately £35,000 to reach our target of £100,000, so please, please continue to help us financially if you possibly can. It will enable us to continue to employ the legal, planning, transport and environmental expertise necessary to present our arguments in the most effective way possible. To donate, click here.

We know it’s a lot to ask, but it’s a small sacrifice to make for the future environment and quality of life of this very special part of Hampshire.

Thank you all, once again.

The team at ADD

ADD’s representation, August 2018

  1. Main report (response to question 4 for policies S5 and S6)
  2. Appendix 1 – Aquascience report (River Itchen SAC)
  3. Appendix 2 – Phlorum report (ecology)
  4. Appendix 3 – DTA report (transport)
  5. Appendix 4 – Terra Firm report (landscape)
  6. Appendix 5 – Hereward Phillpot QC – opinion, July 2017
  7. Appendix 6 – Hereward Phillpot QC – opinion, December 2017
  8. Appendix 7 – Report and Masterplan for Allington Lane
  9. Appendix 8 – Email from Professor Rob Wilby, Loughborough University (flood management)
  10. Response to S5 and S6 (b)
  11. Response to S4 and S5 – Employment
  12. Response to S2 and S3 – Housing
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Worried about Eastleigh’s Local Plan website crashing? Council CEO says get in touch..

ADD UPDATE, 7 August 2018: Further to last night’s decision by Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) to extend its Local Plan consultation to midnight tomorrow, 8 August, ADD’s chairman, John Lauwerys (above), had the email exchange below with EBC’s CEO Nick Tustian today. The bottom line is that if, like many people, you’ve been unable to submit your views because of system ‘errors’, and you’re concerned your views will not be registered, you should contact Mr Tustian immediately (see details below).

Email from John Lauwerys to Nick Tustian, 7 August 2018, 09:15
Subject: EBC draft local plan Reg.19 consultation

Dear Mr Tustian,

I rang your office yesterday to speak to you about the ‘crash’ of the EBC Local Plan consultation website, which is of great concern. Extending the consultation deadline by two days will give the large number of people still trying to make their representations more time to do so but it doesn’t ensure that your system’s failure will not have had a negative effect on the consultation process.

The main concern that ADD has is that some of those submitting a response to the consultation will have been prevented from completing their response half way through and have lost what they had completed thus far. We fear some will simply have given up in frustration and that accordingly their representation will be permanently lost. You referred in your note to councillors (which it would be courteous for you to post on the Council’s website to inform the wider public) to problems emerging on Sunday afternoon. We have had many reports of problems running through Saturday, Sunday and Monday 6 August – the original closing date for the consultation.

I would be glad on behalf of ADD to receive your assurance that the failure in your website system will not have resulted in any submission – which was in the process of being made – being permanently lost. If there is this possibility it seems essential that you urgently ensure a statement of that possibility is made public so that anyone so affected can quickly make another representation.

Yours sincerely,

John Lauwerys
On behalf of the ADD committee

Reply from Nick Tustian to John Lauwerys, 7 August 2018, 14:31
Subject: RE: EBC draft local plan Reg.19 consultation

Dear Mr Lauwerys,

The system we are using to record consultation responses is designed specifically to cope with large scale consultation events such as this and we have been working with the software company to try and understand why there have been problems over the weekend. Certainly at the moment the system seems to be working well and hopefully the extra 48 hours will enable anyone who experienced problems at the weekend to submit their response.

In respect of those who have attempted to submit but got an error message, their responses will be in the system as by this stage they will have completed all of the mandatory fields that would enable us to identify it. However, if anyone has concerns they should email us and we can check the system to ensure it has been received.

Yours sincerely

Nick Tustian
Chief Executive – Management Team
Eastleigh Borough Council, Eastleigh House, Upper Market Street, Eastleigh, SO50 9YN

Email:
[email protected]
[email protected]

Tel: 023 8068 8205 Ext: 8136

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Eastleigh’s online form for Local Plan representations crashes – consultation extended

ADD UPDATE, 6 August 2018: Eastleigh Borough Council’s online form for Local Plan representations has crashed, perhaps because of the deluge of objectors! The council has therefore extended its consultation deadline from midnight tonight to midnight on Wednesday, 8 August. To view the council’s announcement, click here.

If, like many people, you have tried and failed to submit your representation, don’t give up – try again tomorrow. Alternatively, if you have not had time to submit a representation, please use this extra time to do so. Here’s how.

If you have had problems with the online form, either with submitting your representation, saving your draft or uploading documents/images (or something else), please email us so we can understand the scale of the problem.

Thanks to everyone for your incredible support! Together, we can win this fight!

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REMINDER: advice on objecting to Eastleigh’s Local Plan – four days to go!

ADD REMINDER, 2 August 2018: ONLY FOUR DAYS TO GO UNTIL EASTLEIGH’S LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION ENDS (AT MIDNIGHT ON 6 AUGUST). HERE IS A REMINDER OF WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE YOUR VIEWS HEARD. WE NEED EVERYONE TO PARTICIPATE. PLEASE SET ASIDE TIME TO DO SO.

You’ll recall that after we posted our initial guidance on submitting representations, two things happened. Firstly, several people told us the whole process was too complicated. Secondly, Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) listened to our criticisms about their online form and made several important improvements. As a result, while our template [blank; with sample responseremains a valid way of submitting a representation, EBC’s form may now be the easier option.

While EBC’s online form may still look mind bogglingly complicated, it is actually a lot simpler and quicker than it looks. A few vital tips:

  1. You do not have to answer all or even many of the questions. The main thing is that you are seen to make clear you think the Plan is unsound. It is ADD’s job to provide a detailed critique – and we are employing consultants to help us do so.
  2. You only need complete the first two sections – i) About you (your details) and ii) Overall assessment of the Local Plan – though we encourage those who so wish to complete other sections.
  3. Answering section two (Overall assessment of the Local Plan): When providing an overall assessment, we suggest you answer the legal compliance question by saying you are unsure. ADD is currently taking advice on this question. Our main argument is about its soundness. If you wish to object then you have to answer ‘no’ to the question:  “Do you consider the Local Plan to be sound?
  4. You will then be asked to make comments about the soundness. It is essential to begin your answer “I/we believe the Local Plan to be unsound because …”. If you fail to use these words your submission is likely to be ignored.
  5. All the other sections are optional. If you complete any of them, please always start: “I/we believe this policy to be unsound because …” This should ensure your views are considered.
  6. Finally, make sure that your objection has been sent – job done!

Some of points you might like to make in answering section two:

Answering section two. Your comments can be brief. Below are some of our main objections. There’s no need to list them all, and feel free to add your own.

a) We believe the plan was predetermined. Emails that the council was forced to make public suggest that the leadership was already deciding the Local Plan in detail months before the public consultation.

b) The council then ignored the results of its own public (Issues and Options) consultation in December 2015, which showed that options B and C were by far the least popular. In fact, option B (including the new road) had more objections than the other nine options combined.

c) The council has made no serious attempt to consider the suitability of other options. In their comparison of options B/ C and D/E it uses the phrase “it is considered that” no less than 61 times.  This is no substitute for hard fact.

d) It voted to proceed with the plan on 11 December 2017 when nearly 40% of the evidence was still missing including the vital environmental impact and traffic reports.

e) It failed to provide prior consultation to bodies it was required to advise such as Hampshire County Council and the Environment Agency, making the consultation process less well informed.

f) Much of the council’s evidence is incomplete and vague (e.g. traffic impact assessment) and poorly costed (e.g. the proposed new link road).

g) The council appears to have ignored or even contradicted its own evidence in places (e.g. impact on the River Itchen Special Area of Conservation).

Other sections. You may be asked whether your comments apply to the bold text or to the rest of the text or both. Unless you have a lot of time, we suggest you stick to the bold text. As already stated, your main aim should be to register an objection to the soundness of the Plan. ADD will provide the detail.

Many people will want to answer section five – about Fair Oak and Bishopstoke, which would lose their identities, suffer horrendous levels of traffic congestion and see local amenities such as ancient woodland permanently and seriously degraded, according to the Woodland Trust among others.

Arguments should relate to good planning – for example, damage to ancient woodland and the River Itchen, damage to the landscape, the fact that the council has not modelled the traffic impact on the national park or adequately considered the Allbrook rail bridge and how the siting of the development would add unnecessarily to car use. Simply stating that you do not like something will not wash.

Again, having said you ‘oppose’ a policy, start your comments with “I/we believe the policy to be unsound because…”

For ideas for completing sections two and five of EBC’s online form, please click here – though DO REMEMBER TO USE YOUR OWN WORDS. If you use any of these examples verbatim, it will not count as a separate representation.

Please also be aware that EBC will likely want to use its form to demonstrate there is broad support for many of its policies – hence why it asks respondents to state whether they support/oppose its policies. This is not relevant to the planning inspector. What’s relevant is whether the Plan is sound or not.

Good luck! Any questions, please contact us via [email protected].

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Words for the Wild anthology in aid of ADD – now available

ADD UPDATE, 1 August 2018: You may recall that in January local writers Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor launched a website – Words for the Wild – to compile stories and poems about the countryside. What’s more, they kindly suggested their website should form the basis of an anthology which they would publish in support of the ADD campaign. Since January, Words for the Wild has published pieces by over 100 writers from four continents. Some are established and well-known, others are relative newcomers but all are united by their concern for the dwindling wild spaces and places of our world.

As they promised, Amanda and Louise have now launched Words for the Wild’s first print anthology, with all profits going to ADD’s fighting fund. Priced at £8, the anthology is available through Words for the Wild’s online shop and from P&G Wells bookstore in Winchester.

Many of you have already donated generously to the ADD campaign, and we hope many others of you will do so too (here’s how). Buying a copy of Words for the Wild’s anthology is a practical additional way of supporting our goal of quashing Eastleigh Borough Council’s ill-conceived Local Plan – whilst also offering you an immersive escape into dozens of different landscapes.

Praise for the Words for the Wild anthology:

“…in this anthology, a range of terrific writers from all over the world are raising their voices to protect the environment for future generations…” – Alison MacLeod

“…an exquisite walk on the wild side…and the perfect gift for any wildlife enthusiast. A reminder not to take our natural treasures for granted.” – Rosie Johnston

Thank you Amanda and Louise! Please buy your copy of their anthology now.

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Threat to River Itchen means Eastleigh’s Local Plan should be “knocked on the head”

ADD UPDATE, 30 July 2018: One of our key supporters – an expert angler – has produced a great video showing the threat to the River Itchen from sediment run-off. The area he visited is a development of 60 houses in Bishopstoke, the Chase, and his video gives a very clear idea of what might happen if plans for 1,000 extra houses adjacent to the Chase, and 4,300 other houses north of Fair Oak (Eastleigh council’s so-called ‘options B and C’ of its Local Plan), were allowed to go ahead.

The potential irreparable damage to ‘probably the most iconic chalk stream in the world’, as it was described in a World Wildlife fund report, must not be allowed to happen – and we continue to do everything we can to stop it.

As our supporter says at the end of his video: “It is very difficult on a site like this to build 1,000 houses on a slope that goes down to the River Itchen without risk and I would argue that this development should be knocked on the head. There are other sites after all – flat sites – which may be equally close to the River Itchen but they are unlikely to be as damaging.”

See the video below:

 

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Chandler’s Ford Parish Council: extraordinary meeting on Local Plan – 30 July, 7.30pm

To all residents of Chandler’s Ford: your Parish Council will be holding an Extraordinary Meeting on Monday 30 July to discuss Eastleigh Borough Council’s Local Plan. Please attend! The meeting will be held at 7.30pm at the Fryern Pavilion, Greenways. Chandler’s Ford.

The Motion, proposed by Cllr Ricketts, will be: “Having had sight of the Draft Local Plan it is noticeable that Chandler’s Ford (CF) would be subjected to increased traffic congestion and pollution, as the Plan includes a major new link road from the large development [of 5,300 new houses] north of Bishopstoke to Junction 12 of the M3 (CF and Eastleigh). This road is expected to carry 26,000 vehicles a day. The knock-on effect would be much increased queueing on the approaches to the motorway in CF (Winchester Road, Hocombe Road, Hiltingbury Road) and these roads are already experiencing additional traffic pressure from major housebuilding projects in Romsey, funnelling extra vehicles to the M3. Therefore, shouldn’t Chandler’s Ford Parish Council be joining ten other local parish councils in objecting to the Draft Local Plan?”

Public participation: a period will be set aside at the beginning of the meeting for members of the public to ask questions or make statements.

Click here for the formal notice.

Like all similar Local Plan meetings, ADD encourages as many Chandler’s Ford residents as possible to attend.

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