Developers eye Fair Oak as a site for massive urban expansion

ADD UPDATE, 31 August 2023: A firm of developers has acquired option agreements on 192 acres of land north of Fair Oak with a view to building 1,500 homes – so reviving a large part of the Option C expansion area rejected by the planning inspector two years ago. Croudace say their proposal would include a new primary school and local centre.

The news is certain to alarm Fair Oak residents who will recall how the previous Eastleigh Local Plan would have engulfed the village, together with neighbouring Bishopstoke, in a massive urban sprawl. Eastleigh Borough Council has invited anyone to send in details of potential sites for development by September 6 as it gears up for its next local plan. It is not yet clear whether it will promote this particular proposal.

ADD (Action against Destructive Development), while accepting the need for some new housing in the borough, views the site as totally unacceptable. The inspector slammed development in this area, largely because of the impact on the South Downs National Park and its narrow lanes. With no public transport infrastructure, it would be heavily car-dependant and put a massive pressure on the already overloaded road network, with no realistic way of alleviating it.

“It’s disappointing but not especially surprising that Fair Oak is once again threatened by inappropriate development, which would have a big impact on the environment and the quality of life of local people,” said ADD chair David Ashe. “With the help of our supporters, we will be putting forward strong, evidence-based arguments and – like last time – will be working hard to ensure the right outcome.”

The new Eastleigh Local Plan is due to come into force in 2029.


Watch out! The Eastleigh Local Plan is back – and so are we

ADD UPDATE, 30 June 2023: Eastleigh is to get a new Local Plan, to be in place by 2029. It will replace the one adopted last year after Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)’s original version had been rejected by the planning inspector. Action against Destructive Development (ADD), having campaigned successfully to get fundamental changes to the previous plan, will be following progress closely.

ADD accepts the case for new housing, and will support developments that are sensitive to the natural environment, the quality of life of residents and the housing needs of local people.

So what happens now?

September 6, 2023: Deadline for anyone to send Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) details of potential sites for development.
Autumn 2023: Council to publish a Statement of Community Involvement, setting out how it will consult local people.
Autumn 2024: Approval of the ‘Issues and Options’ paper, which can be expected to include a shortlist of potential sites. This will be followed by the start of the public consultation.
Summer 2026: Approval of the council’s preferred sites to be tested in more detail.
Autumn 2027: Approval of Local Plan, subject to further public consultation.
Spring 2028: Submission of Local Plan to the Secretary of State
Spring 2028 – Spring 2029: public examination of the Local Plan.
Spring 2029: Adoption of local plan with possible amendments.

ADD’s supporters will recall that we strongly opposed EBC’s previous Local Plan, which would have involved 5,500 homes in highly eco-sensitive locations in Fair Oak and Bishopstoke, a major new road through countryside, permanent damage to several areas of ancient woodland, pollution on the River Itchen and an unacceptable increase in road traffic.

“We look forward to co-operating with Eastleigh Borough Council, our parish councils, other local organisations and residents to achieve the best possible outcome,” said ADD chair David Ashe. “We hope that this time around the consultation process will be genuine, that the council will be led by what is best for the area rather than by developers and that all possible sites are given full and fair consideration.”

For more details go to

Throughout this process, we will be providing updates on this website.


ADD committee will continue to meet as new Eastleigh Local Plan emerges

ADD UPDATE, 16 December 2022: It has been a long time since ADD communicated with our supporters, and there is a simple reason for this. Having achieved our aim of getting fundamental changes to the Eastleigh Local Plan, there has been little to say. At its meeting in October, Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) voted to adopt adopt the revised plan for 2016-36 drawn up after the Planning Inspector’s stinging assessment of the original version.

Gone are proposals to build up to 5,500 homes in Strategic Growth Options B and C, which would have created a huge urban sprawl covering large swathes of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke in the most eco-sensitive parts of the borough. EBC has also abandoned the link road that would have cut Colden Common in two.

So ADD’s mission is complete – or is it?

At the ADD committee meeting last month, we discussed the continuing, probably never-ending need for vigilance. The pressure from developers will always be there, and EBC will start the process of reviewing the Local Plan in 2023. Whilst there is very little chance of the old proposals being revived, EBC still has to find space for another 2,500 homes (though this number may come down in light of revised population projections and changes in government planning policy).

We therefore believe there is a continuing need to protect our environment from the possibility of inappropriate, destructive development. In particular, we will scrutinise the revised plan when it is published, and we will comment as necessary. Our objective will be to ensure that, where there is a genuine need for new development, we get the right houses in the right places.

We shall also be following what happens to Stoke Park Farm in Bishopstoke, which originally made up most of Option B. EBC has purchased the land and taken it out of production to provide the nitrate and phosphate offset required whenever there are major building developments. This means it cannot be used for housing, nor can the major new link road originally planned to facilitate development in Fair Oak be built. The EBC Local Area Committee is championing proposals to create a wildlife park there, which we enthusiastically support.

Our overriding aim remains the same – to protect the environment and quality of life in our corner of Hampshire whilst supporting new housing development where it is appropriate. We will continue to keep you updated as our work continues.

After leading ADD since shortly after its inception six years ago and overseeing every aspect of its work, John Lauwerys has stepped down as chair. As many people know, his contribution to our community has been immense, and we are all grateful to him. David Ashe will be taking over in an interim capacity. David has been a leading and very active member of ADD, and is a former chair of Upham Parish Council.


We’re there! Inspector approves revised Eastleigh Local Plan – with huge development north of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke deleted

ADD UPDATE: 26 March 2022: The long-running saga of the Eastleigh Local Plan will finally end next month when Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) formally gives a revised version its approval after getting the green light from the planning inspector, Christa Masters. The new plan is radically different (and in our view hugely improved) compared to the one originally favoured by the council in December 2015.

Most importantly of all, proposals (so-called Options B and C or the Strategic Growth Option) to create an urban sprawl the size of a small town to the north of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke, encompassing the most eco-sensitive parts of the borough, are no longer there. The associated link road, essential for Options B and C, has also been removed.

As anyone familiar with ADD’s activities will know, these changes are exactly what we and our supporters had hoped to see.

ADD chair John Lauwerys commented that the amended plan, which has been approved by the inspector, puts the final seal on more than six years of intensive campaigning. “This has been a huge community effort involving hundreds of local residents, and it is fantastic to see all our hard work bear fruit,” he said.

In her 50-page final report, Ms Masters goes into some detail as to why she rejected the original plan in a letter sent to EBC nearly two years ago. In doing so, she echoes many of the objections put forward by ADD. These include the impact on the South Downs National Park, the failure to give adequate consideration to alternative development sites, sustainability issues, insufficient gaps between communities, and the likely effect on traffic.

On the national park she says: “Additional traffic at the sort of level predicted by the evidence base could have a detrimental effect on the communities concerned.”

On the failure to give adequate consideration to alternative potential development sites, she expresses “serious concerns in relation to the assessment of individual reasonable options… On this basis it cannot be demonstrated that the preferred SGO [Strategic Growth Option] is sound.”

On traffic, she highlights “the distance people would need to travel, the ability of people to walk and cycle, the propensity to use public transport and the level of delay on the highway network. Overall, the evidence base does not justify the selection of the SGO as the preferred option in this regard.”

Inevitably, however, this is not the end of the story. As Ms Masters points out, work on the next Eastleigh Local Plan will have to begin soon, and should be complete within the next five years. The need for vigilance is never-ending.


Nature reserve in Bishopstoke and Fair Oak moves a step closer

ADD UPDATE: 13 March 2022: Exciting plans to create a permanent new nature reserve in Bishopstoke and Fair Oak are a step closer after a vote by the Bishopstoke, Fair Oak and Horton Heath Local Area Committee of Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) last week. The committee agreed unanimously to back a scheme drawn up by local Independent councillors Lou Parker-Jones and Gin Tidridge that would see the natural environment preserved “in perpetuity” on land currently occupied by Stoke Park Farm.

Stoke Park Farm originally made up most of the Option B part of the Eastleigh Local Plan, which would have created an urban sprawl roughly the size of Petersfield. It was removed on the direction of the planning inspector, along with adjacent Option C.

Describing the farmland as “an essential breathing space…a place of exceptional beauty”, Cllr Tidridge stressed that the intention was to create a nature reserve rather than a country park. However, she envisaged that there would be footpaths to make the land accessible to the public.

EBC has already agreed to buy the farm, which is mainly in Bishopstoke but crosses into Fair Oak, to use it for nitrate/phosphate mitigation purposes. Doing so will enable the council to meet a legal requirement set out by Natural England to offset the harmful effects of nitrogen and other chemicals from new housing entering the sea and other waterways. Because fertilisers used in agriculture also produce nitrogen, finding alternative uses for the land will satisfy this requirement.

The plan has still to be approved by a full council meeting of EBC, but appears to have the support of all political groups represented on the authority. Cllrs Michelle Marsh (Lib Dem) and Steve Broomfield (Conservative) also spoke strongly in favour.

ADD chair John Lauwerys was among members of the public to speak at the meeting and also gave the proposed nature reserve strong backing.

Helen Douglas, chair of Fair Oak and Horton Heath parish council, applauded the initiative. She called, however, for the creation of other green spaces elsewhere in the parish. She highlighted the needs of Horton Heath in particular, as it is currently undergoing extensive development.


ADD welcomes Eastleigh Borough Council move to protect Bishopstoke natural environment

ADD UPDATE, 14 February 2022: Action against Destructive Development (ADD) has welcomed news that Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) is purchasing farmland in the former Option B area of the Local Plan – and that it has pledged to protect it as a green space.

EBC leader Keith House said: “This land will remain undeveloped, help protect land between our communities and provide environmental benefits for the long term.”

EBC is in the process of acquiring Stoke Park Farm and Manor Farm in Bishopstoke, land that the council had originally earmarked for housing as part of a 5,500-home expansion of the borough. In April 2020 the government planning inspector instructed the council to withdraw the proposal, along with the adjacent Option C development in Fair Oak.

EBC says it is now considering a number of options, including “additional woodland planting, creating habitats for biodiversity to thrive such as the Southern Damsel Fly, or left in natural states as additional green space such as meadows or wetlands, preserving our gaps between our towns and villages.”

Welcoming the council’s decision, ADD chair John Lauwerys said: “This is great news for the residents of Bishopstoke and Colden Common – and for anyone concerned about our precious natural environment. It means that the development on the option B area including the planned new link road will never take place. And, given that Option C was dependent on the link road, that too now seems consigned to history.”

Purchasing the land will enable EBC to meet a legal requirement set out by Natural England to offset the harmful effects of nitrogen and other chemicals from new housing entering the sea and other waterways. Because fertilisers used in agriculture also produce nitrogen, finding alternative uses for the land will satisfy this requirement. There are currently a number of developments planned for the borough, including more than 2,000 homes at nearby Horton Heath being developed by EBC.


Eastleigh Borough Council’s revised Local Plan proposals go to consultation

ADD UPDATE, Thursday 10 June 2021: Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) has published its revised Local Plan following the Planning Inspector’s letter of 1 April 2020, which instructed the authority to delete Options B and C (the ‘Strategic Growth Option’ north of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke).

Anyone wishing to comment on the modified proposals has until 21 July to do so. ADD will be sitting down with its planning consultants to prepare its response. Although EBC is no longer proposing 5,500 homes north of Bishopstoke or a link road leading from Allbrook to Lower Upham, we still have a number of detailed concerns. We will inform supporters when we have finalised our submission.

Click here for details from EBC, including – should you wish to do so – how to submit your own representation.


Graham Mole – an appreciation

ADD UPDATE, 5 April 2021: We were deeply saddened to learn recently that Graham Mole, a passionate supporter of ADD and a resident of Bishopstoke, had passed away. A former TV producer who later became a respected angling journalist, Graham was a member of our media group, where his ideas and commitment made a valuable contribution to our work.

“Graham was such a great contributor to the ADD campaign, bringing his journalism skills, experience, address book, ideas and an amazing amount of enthusiasm to fighting options B and C,” says local councillor Gin Tidridge. “I was always struck by his genuine passion for saving the Itchen and woods from the damage the development would have caused.”

The one big consolation is that Graham (like Martin Larkin, another great ADD supporter who died last year) lived long enough to witness the campaign’s success. We know that this gave him great satisfaction. Everyone at ADD offers heart-felt condolences to his widow Annie and the rest of his family.


Eastleigh council expects to agree modifications to Local Plan in May

ADD UPDATE, 7 February 2021: ADD supporters will have noticed a lull in our activity recently. The reason is that we have been waiting patiently for Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) to respond in full to the planning inspector’s letter of 1 April 2020 – something it originally planned to do by the end of last year. It now appears, however, that we will have to wait until May to learn EBC’s response as much of the necessary work has still to be carried out.

You will recall that the inspector Christa Masters instructed EBC to make substantial changes to the Local Plan. These include the removal of Options B and C (the massive proposed developments in Fair Oak and Bishopstoke) plus associated link road. The next step in the process is for the council to propose modifications to give effect to these required changes and, until that happens, there is very little that interested parties such as ADD can do.

So how long will that take? The council has not said publicly. However, in a letter to the council asking for confirmation of the revised timetable, Ms Masters says she understands EBC is still completing technical work for the Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Regulations Assessment; and that the main modifications to the Local Plan are now expected to go to full council in May.

There would then be a six-week consultation period starting in June when it is likely that ADD will want to make further representations. After that, depending on the issues raised, the inspector might hold a further examination in public. Alternatively, she could decide this was unnecessary and instead issue a final report, which would sign off the revised local plan.

We estimate that this could all take until the end of the year – six years from the original Issues and Options consultation in December 2015. If that seems like a long time, anyone who cares about the area and its environment will agree that it is of paramount importance to get it right. After all, the results will be with us for ever.

We will, of course, keep you posted of developments as we learn about them.

Click here to read the inspector’s letter in full.


‘Delight’ as government agrees to restore its previous local housing numbers

ADD UPDATE: 21 December 2020: ADD is delighted to end this very difficult year with some Christmas cheer for its supporters and all who care about our area and its environment.

The government has announced details of how it will replace its proposed algorithm, published on 6 August, which would have required local authorities in the South East to raise dramatically their housing targets. It would have meant a 21% increase for Eastleigh, amounting to several thousand additional homes, casting doubt over our hard-fought victory at last year’s planning inquiry. The revised policy will instead concentrate more development in existing urban and brownfield areas such as Southampton, where the necessary infrastructure already exists, and in parts of the North and Midlands.

As a result Eastleigh’s housing targets will still be those applied to the draft Local Plan for 2016-36, which included the controversial Options B and C and associated link road. The plan was, of course, the reason for ADD’s four-year battle with Eastleigh Borough Council to protect Bishopstoke, Fair Oak, Allbrook and the River Itchen from unnecessary and highly destructive development.

Our position was upheld by the government planning inspector who, in a letter dated 1 April, instructed the council to delete these proposals. The council and its ruling group later agreed that there should be no development in rural parts of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke for at least ten years, and supported calls for the area to become part of a new green belt.

“We are naturally very pleased with the government’s change of heart,” said ADD chair John Lauwerys. “The decision to abandon the government’s algorithm and to continue with the previous target for Eastleigh means that the council can be expected to maintain its new and welcome approach.” ADD was one of 507 community groups to respond to the government consultation on the algorithm, setting out the reasons why we regarded it as fundamentally flawed.

He paid tribute to the “highly effective” efforts of our three local MPs, Paul Holmes, Steve Brine and Flick Drummond in arguing against the proposed new housing targets – and to CPRE for its formidable, evidence-based lobbying. Winchester residents, especially those who were horrified by the proposed Royaldown development between Winchester and Hursley, also have reason to celebrate as the city council had faced a whopping 48% rise in its housing targets.

Is that the end of the story? Not quite, as we have yet to see the final shape of the Eastleigh Local Plan, which is expected early next year. What’s more, the government continues to propose giving developers greater freedom whilst reducing the scope for local people and authorities to influence decisions. Whilst it is very hard to see Options B and C returning in anything like their original form, do not be too surprised if we have to fight more opportunistic and inappropriate schemes in the future.

ADD wishes its supporters a very happy Christmas in these challenging times. We thank you for your continued support. We think you will agree that in at least one respect this has been a very positive and successful year.