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Open letter to Eastleigh Council Leader: Please stop ignoring development problems for local charity

Open letter to Keith House, Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, from Annette Lodge, Chair of St Francis Animal Welfare, 10 September 2019: “Dear Councillor House, Staff, volunteers and Trustees of St Francis Animal Welfare (SFAW) shelter are desperately worried about the proposed huge housing development in Local Plan Options B&C; if permitted, this would come very close to the shelter and make our lives extremely difficult if not impossible. Now we have an application from Mortimers Farm across the road and we are being encroached on from all sides. Frankly it is shocking that Eastleigh and the developers have ignored the problems we will face with the Local Plan Options B & C, if approved…” To read the full letter click here.

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Eastleigh’s Local Plan at odds with government’s climate goals

ADD UPDATE: 24 August 2019: The government should discourage personal vehicle use to meet its legally binding target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to a report published last week by the Commons Science and Technology Select committee. In its report, the cross-party committee makes clear that progress towards the 2050 target is slow and being inhibited by various government actions and inactions.

Although it did not mention Eastleigh by name, the borough council’s Local Plan is a textbook illustration of the kind of policies that the report makes clear would guarantee the UK misses its carbon-reduction targets. Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) may have recently declared a climate emergency  but it is showing itself to be part of the problem rather than the solution.   

One of the report’s key concerns relates to the use of cars. It points out that, while electric vehicles are cleaner in use, their manufacture is far from carbon-neutral. Indeed, the MPs conclude ‘in the long-term, widespread vehicle ownership does not appear compatible with significant de-carbonisation’ (see para 131 of the report here).

EBC has agreed to set up a cross-party working group to figure out how to make Eastleigh carbon-neutral by 2030. As part of its work, this group will have to consider the impact of the council’s draft Local Plan, which runs to 2036. As we know, the Local Plan includes proposals for around 5,500 new houses – around 2,000 more than government targets to 2036 actually require – in countryside north of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke (so-called options B and C) that has no easy access to rail transport and will be heavily car-dependent.

Nobody can possibly predict if these 2,000 extra houses will be needed in the borough in this particular location as far ahead as into the 2040s (the Office of National Statistics’ population growth projections currently suggest it is unlikely). The real, unspoken reason that the council wants the extra 2,000 houses is to pay for a new road that is essential to the building of any new homes in such a remote area. And, of course, the new road, which will carve its way between several areas of ancient woodland, is necessary to carry the thousands of new cars that the commons select committee is saying we want to discourage. What a mess! If you want to maximise car usage and CO2 emissions, then you will love this plan.

Eastleigh’s Local Plan is due to be examined by the government’s planning inspector over six weeks of hearings starting on 21 November. Amongst other things, she will be looking at whether the council’s chosen Plan is deliverable and sustainable. As ADD has been saying for over three years, ever since the council mooted the idea of development in options B and C, the Plan looks neither.

We have known all along that there are alternatives. However, at every turn, the council has ignored them. In the words of paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework, our primary goal has always been for the council “to adopt the most appropriate strategy when considered against the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence.” 

Our extensive work, carried out by our professional consultants and unpaid volunteers, has left us convinced that there are big gaps, inaccuracies and contradictions in the council’s evidence base, as well as serious flaws in their processes. We are working hard to prepare our arguments and will present them in a clear and focused way at the planning inspector’s examination.

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Details announced for Planning Inspector’s examination of Eastleigh’s Local Plan

ADD UPDATE, 20 August 2019: At long last, we have dates for the Planning Inspector’s examination of Eastleigh’s Local Plan. The hearing sessions will open on Thursday 21 November and run for a period of six weeks. Below is an email sent yesterday by Louise St John Howe, the Programme Officer, with all the details.

As you will read, the Inspector, Christa Masters, will publish her statement of Matters, Issues and Questions – which will make clear what she intends to focus on to determine if Eastleigh’s Plan is sound – during the week commencing 23 September. Once she has done this, we will give guidance to our supporters on what to expect, how to follow proceedings and what further assistance, if any, we may need.

STARTS

Good Evening, 

As the Programme Officer for the Eastleigh Borough Council Local Plan Examination,  I am writing to  inform all those who submitted a Representation at the Regulation 19 Stage, when the Council invited comments on the submission draft of the Local Plan, that the hearing sessions of the Examination have now been arranged and are set out below.   

Hearing Sessions

These will all be held in the Millennium Suite at the Botleigh Grange Hotel, Grange Road, Hedge End, Southampton, Hampshire, SO30 2GA and will open on Thursday 21 November, 2019 at 10.00 am.They will run for a period of six weeks on the following dates:-

Week 1:   Thursday 21 November, Friday 22 November 

Week 2:   Tuesday 26 November, Wednesday 27 November, Thursday 28 November

Week 3:   Wednesday 4 December, Thursday 5 December, Friday 6 December

Week 4:   Wednesday 8 January, Thursday 9 January

Week 5:   Tuesday 14 January, Wednesday 15 January, Thursday 16 January

Week 6:   Tuesday 28 January, Wednesday 29 January, Thursday 30 January 

Inspector’s Guidance Notes 

I am attaching a copy of the Inspector’s Guidance Notes which set out the process of the Examination and give information on the provision of hearing statements and how to register to take part in the hearing sessions.  On the last page of the Guidance Notes you will find a chart which sets out the key dates associated with the Hearing Sessions.  

Please note that if you wish to participate in any of the hearing sessions you will need to notify me of this by 11 October, even if you indicated in your response at Regulation 19 that you wished to take part.   The Inspector’s Matters, Issues and Questions and Draft Programme for the hearing sessions will be sent out w/c 23 September so that you have time to decide which of the hearing sessions would be most relevant for the issues you wish to discuss.  

Please get in touch with me by phone or email if you have any queries about the Examination or would like further clarification on any of the details in this email, however I will not be available between 20th August and 9th September as I will be on leave during this period.    

Kind regards,

Louise St John Howe
Programme Officer,
PO Services, PO Box 10965,
Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 3BF
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:   07789-486419

ENDS

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Planners still divided over controversial Eastleigh development proposals

Hampshire Chronicle, 4 August 2019: PROPOSALS for development between Eastleigh and Colden Common are still dividing planners. Eastleigh Borough Council wants to see a chunk of development on countryside between Bishopstoke/Fair Oak and Colden Common, with more than 5,000 new homes and new link road between Allbrook Hill, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak. The area abuts the boundary of the Winchester district, with the proposed road cutting into Winchester. A Statement of Common Ground has been drawn up by the two authorities stating each authority’s position for submission to a planning inspector who will examine the Eastleigh Local Plan. In this document, Winchester has raised several concerns about Eastleigh’s proposals for the area.

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Eastleigh needs sustainable development – wake up Eastleigh council!

ADD UPDATE, 18 July 2019: To anyone who came of age in the 1960s, Eastleigh’s Local Plan has an eerily retro feel to it.

In those days, no one had heard of sustainable development or global warming. The car was king, you measured your success in life by the number and value of ‘motors’ in your front drive and you only used public transport or the bicycle if that was all you could afford. Extinction Rebellion were probably just a whacky new rock group and, as for Greta Thunberg, her parents hadn’t even been born.

Fast forward to 2019, and Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) don’t seem to realise that times have moved on. It is truly shocking that any authority – let alone one that claims to be ‘tackling climate change’ – should be promoting a totally unsustainable development in options B/C, which involves around new 5,500 houses and a major new road north of Bishopstoke, Fair Oak and Allbrook and south of Colden Common, Owslebury and Upham. The government requires that any new development should be sustainable. The UK parliament has recently declared a climate change emergency.

ADD has been investigating sustainable transport options including rail, bus, cycling and walking for the development proposals in the Local Plan. EBC has deliberately played down the opportunities for a new station at Allington Lane and for improved rail services in the area.

A new station at Allington Lane combined with integrated bus services, cycle and pedestrian routes could serve up to 7,000 households. The concept of local rail services in the Eastleigh-Fareham-Southampton Central triangle is being taken forward by Network Rail via their current Continuous Modular Strategic Planning (CMSP) procedure. This means that there could be a viable 30-minute service between Eastleigh and Fareham. This is supported by the Three Rivers Rail Partnership and Rail Future.

Over the life of the proposed Local Plan (to 2036), there are further proposals such as the Solent metro that will keep pace with development of the Solent Area.

On the other hand, options B/C are utterly car-dependant and could have been calculated to maximise carbon dioxide levels. Building a new road would destroy the most biodiverse part of the borough, and is as likely to contribute to traffic congestion as to relieve it, especially in the Allbrook/ Woodside Avenue areas.

More and more bodies are emphasising the vital need for sustainable solutions, including the recently published report by the UK Committee on Climate Change. In these circumstances why is EBC proposing development options B/C in the most remote parts of the borough far from all rail stations and other amenities? Why are they ignoring the potential to provide a new station and improved rail services, developing a truly sustainable and integrated transport service?

To quote a well-known sixties hit, The Times They Are A-Changin’. Wake up, Eastleigh.

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ADD continues to build case against Eastleigh’s Local Plan, amidst further delays

ADD UPDATE, 25 June 2019: Several ADD supporters have recently asked about the progress of our campaign to defeat Eastleigh’s Local Plan, and the likely timing of Planning Inspector’s examination of the plan. Since its formal submission to Whitehall last October, the Planning Inspector has highlighted numerous areas of missing evidence and asked the council to fill these gaps as quickly as possible. The council committed to completing this task by last Friday (21 June) but, due to problems with their website (again), these new reports have still not been released to the public. Given the ongoing delays to this process, we now think the Examination in Public won’t start before October – at the earliest.

While the council continues to try and produce evidence to support its ill-conceived plan, the ADD team continues to build the most compelling case against it. Indeed, thanks to ongoing donations from our thousands of supporters, we have been able to engage – as we had hoped – the best planning, traffic, environmental and legal advisers to develop our arguments.

Yesterday, a team from ADD, CPRE and our planning consultants West Waddy met our barristers, Hereward Phillpot QC and Caroline Daly of Francis Taylor Building chambers in London (see above). We cannot of course at this stage disclose what was discussed – save to say that the mood of the meeting was “optimistic”.

Thank you again to all of you, locally and nationally, who have supported our campaign so far. If you have yet to contribute to our fighting fund, or would like to give more, you can find out how to do so here.

The ADD team will strain every sinew to show how unsound and environmentally damaging Eastleigh’s Local Plan is and to highlight the council’s lack of evidence to justify the choice it has made against the clear opposition of local people.

As we have said all along, together we can win this fight!

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Letter to the Hampshire Chronicle: More concerns about the future of the River Itchen

Letter to the Hampshire Chronicle, 14 June 2019:  THE environmental threats to the River Itchen, and potential solutions, were recently highlighted by BBC’s Countryfile. Whilst reporting on the controversy over food company Bakkavor’s release of chemicals in the river at Alresford, the BBC also said many farmers were acting on environmental concerns. A river keeper has highlighted another danger in a letter to the Chronicle this week. As he writes: “Unfortunately, there is another, darker side to the picture – plans by Eastleigh Borough Council to build thousands of houses on land that drains, via a network of feeder streams, directly into the River Itchen. If these plans ever go ahead, the damage would more than cancel out all the advances highlighted in the programme.”

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Councillor for West End South opposes Local Plan – in Oxfordshire. ADD: ‘Double standards and muddled thinking

Eastleigh News, 20 May 2019: The newly elected councillor for West End South has told how he became ‘a little hot under the collar’ when heard of plans to ‘pave over vast swathes of the green belt’ in Oxfordshire. Liberal Democrat Tim Bearder who is both a West End parish councillor and a borough councillor for West End South also sits as a county councillor in Oxfordshire where he is opposed to South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan. In an article published in the Oxford Times last month Councillor Bearder warned South Oxfordshire’s Local Plan would result in a ‘catastrophic level of construction.” ADD have accused him of “double standards” in supporting Eastleigh’s Local Plan while opposing the Local Plan in his home county.

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Eastleigh MP Mims Davies urges constituents to respond after EBC are forced to re-consult on proposed Local Plan

Mims Davies MP, 16 May 2019: The Member of Parliament for Eastleigh, Mims Davies, has urged her constituents to make sure that their voice is heard over the local council’s delayed Local Plan after Eastleigh Borough Council were forced into launching a new six-week consultation on over forty sites proposed for development across the Borough within the proposed Local Plan. The consultation comes after Eastleigh Borough Council was reprimanded by the Independent Planning Inspectorate in March for failing to properly consult on the proposed sites. The new consultation has already faced criticism after residents were unable to complete the consultation online, while the form on the website provided no details of where it should be sent once completed.

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Eastleigh’s council fails to notify Bishopstoke parish of planning applications – parish chair declares: ‘We are not impressed’

Eastleigh News, 16 May 2019: Bishopstoke Parish Council have complained that Eastleigh Borough Council have failed to send them notifications of planning applications in the parish. At last night’s meeting of Bishopstoke, Fair Oak and Horton Heath Local Area Committee the chair of Bishopstoke Parish Council – Councillor Sue Toher (pictured) – addressed the local area borough councillors on behalf of the Bishopstoke Parish Planning Committee. Cllr Toher told the committee that since last July there had been seven instances when the Parish Council had either not received a notification or else they had received notifications for Fair Oak Parish council rather than Bishopstoke – in one case she said, they had received an application eight days after the closing date.

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