ADD UPDATE, 15 December 2016: Last night, ahead of Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)’s full council meeting tonight, EBC called a meeting of all parish councillors to discuss the council’s emerging Local Plan. To keep readers abreast of our activities, we thought you would be interested to see the letter we wrote to all parish councillors ahead of last night’s meeting. As you’ll see, this letter includes links to the proposals by developers Highwood and Drew Smith for options B and C (Allbrook-Bishopstoke-Fair Oak), and by Bovis and Hallam Land for option E (Allington Lane South). Interesting reading! We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at tonight’s meeting at 7.00pm at Kings Community Church, Upper Northam Road, Hedge End, Southampton, SO30 4BZ.
Dear Parish Councillors,
At your meeting on Wednesday evening [14 December 2016] Eastleigh Borough Council will be briefing you on one of the most important decisions Councillors will ever take about Eastleigh’s future.
The Progress Report for this meeting shows that Eastleigh’s plan process is being led by the developers rather than your planning department, with the developers’ proposals for B and C (Allbrook-Bishopstoke-Fair Oak – click here for developers’ proposal) being compared to those for option E (Allington Lane South – click here for developers’ proposal).
The analysis [in the Progress Report] shows that options B and C are much the riskiest proposal, with no fewer than 4 significant threats to delivery compared to E’s one. It notes that the new North Bishopstoke Relief Road associated with B and C ‘could reduce congestion’ although further work is required to prove this. Hampshire Highways’ preliminary comments on this road are wary of suggesting that it could provide any more ‘relief’ than to reduce the dire effects of putting a new settlement the size of Petersfield on the north and east of Fair Oak/Bishopstoke. Hampshire County Council (HCC)’s other preliminary suggestions for reducing congestion are dismissed.
Even assuming that it works, the relief road will of course be 100% useless as a relief road until it is 100% complete. This is why [EBC leader] Keith House has told neighbouring Councils that Eastleigh will shell out to build the whole road before any money comes back from the development. But in addition to the huge cost of this (the £30M quoted by Hampshire only covers two thirds of the length, and leaves out any works to the Allbrook bridge), buried on page 17 of the [separate EBC] infrastructure report, is the threat that Network Rail may, as part of allowing works to the bridge, require a share of the development profits for the whole development. In Network Rail’s own words this could result in a significant value being due to Network Rail which could significantly impact on the viability of the development option.
- So why is the conclusion to throw the Council’s efforts into supporting the riskiest proposal?
- Are these two developer proposals being assessed on a level playing field?
- What’s the rush, when enough evidence is not yet there?
- Are councillors being led by the nose towards an option that is good for the developer but bad for Eastleigh?
- What discussions have Eastleigh been having with Network Rail about the Allbrook bridge?
- What discussions have EBC had with Winchester about the work required to build a road within the Itchen river Special Area of Conservation, which in the words of this report will ‘only be allowed in the most exceptional of circumstances’?
- What are the funding arrangements for the road if EBC have it built before the infrastructure as Keith House has undertaken? How can they ensure the borough is not saddled with an unrepayable debt?
- Why, when Eastleigh are so keen to be seen ‘tackling climate change’ are they choosing to support a car dominated development strung along a road, in preference to a sustainable community, centred (if option D land is included) around a station.
These questions matter to Eastleigh so much because, if Councillors rush into a decision before the full facts are available, the plan will be thrown out by the inspector as being unsound. This will leave everyone, both in Eastleigh and around it, to suffer the consequences of a developers’ free-for all.
In case you are interested we attach a report by independent planning consultants on the progress of the plan so far. The exec summary and appendix make a good read.
We hope you have an enjoyable and illuminating evening on Wednesday.
Action against Destructive Development