Listen to Eastleigh council’s leader being interviewed by BBC Radio Solent on his borough’s emerging Local Plan, and then check the facts for yourselves

ADD UPDATE, 27 July, 2017: Last Friday, the morning after Eastleigh Borough Council’s meeting on its emerging Local Plan, BBC Radio Solent aired THIS BROADCAST on the meeting and the uphill struggle that Keith House, leader of the council, faces if he wishes to pursue his preferred plans for 5,200 houses and a major new road in the north of the borough.

In this post, we transcribe the first part of the broadcast and then invite you to listen to Keith House answer questions from the BBC’s Julian Clegg and Jo Palmer. Given ADD’s central aim is for transparency in Eastleigh’s Local Plan process, we highlight key parts of the interview you may wish to consider; and offer factual responses to Keith House’s assertions.  All we want is for the facts to be in the open so they can speak for themselves.


Julian Clegg: “Hundreds of people packed into a meeting last night to speak out against plans by Eastleigh Borough Council to build 5,000 new houses on land running through Bishopstoke, Fair Oak and Colden Common. Our reporter, Jo Palmer, who has been following the story all the way through, was there at that meeting last night. So, Jo, tell me a bit more, what was happening and what was it like?”

Jo Palmer: “Well it was absolutely… it was completely packed to the rafters, people were spilling out the doors. There was an overflow room where people were watching it on a screen. 

“And there was a moment where it was then discussed who was going to speak out against the scheme and just about every organisation, from the Scouts, the Brownies, every environmental group – the Woodland Trust, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Angling Trust to name but a few – all said: ‘No! no, no, no. You’re building near ancient woodland, you’re building over the Itchen, this cannot go ahead.’

“And then, of course, there were all the residents who were hugely unhappy because of the scale of it. One of the main issues is a development of that scale requires a road – the road will be very expensive and it’s going into feed a traffic hot spot known as Allbrook Hill. I spoke to loads of people but there’s one woman in particular who just summed it up perfectly…”

Abby Bartlett: “Hi, I’m Abby Bartlett. I work in the construction industry as a sustainability consultant so my everyday job is sustainability. That’s my day-in, day-out work. And, quite frankly, the considerations for the new road just do not represent sustainable development, on even the remotest scale. So, sustainable development involves a balance between the economic, the environmental and the social factors of a development. Now this one, we know there are environmental issues with the river; we know there are economic issues with the railway bridge that is going to cost a small fortune to sort those side of things out; and, as you can see by the numbers here tonight, socially the community do not accept the option. So, I don’t see how Eastleigh can see it as sustainable development.”


Julian Clegg then interviews Keith House, the leader of Eastleigh Borough Council (minute: 1.57). Listen for yourselves how Keith House:

(i) dismisses the huge turnout of people against the council’s preferred plans as standard, saying there would have been just as big a protest whichever options the council preferred. REALLY? The fact is that options B and C generated over six times more objections during the consultation than the alternative options (592 vs 96).

(ii) responds to a question quoting Chris Packham, the TV naturalist, saying the council is “playing with fire [and]… taking away how people can get in touch with nature by just building all over it,” by saying: “We are not building all over nature.” REALLY? The fact is that the council’s plans are for 5,200 new houses and a major new road on the borough’s last remaining, and most beautiful, countryside.

(iii) avoids the question about why the council is planning a new road that ends up at the low, accident-prone Allbrook bridge, saying “the new road would give easy access to the M3.” REALLY? The fact is that the new development is likely to throw around 25,000 extra vehicle movements every day onto already congested roads. How are all these cars and lorries going to have “easy access” under this tiny bridge? It’s not clear he or other councillors know

(iv) responds to a question about whether he is “blindly wedded” to options B and C by saying: “If it turned out there genuinely was a showstopper… then obviously we would have to look for a different proposal but there is no evidence at the moment to suggest that this is not the best way forward.” REALLY? Was he not listening to the facts presented by the 20+ speakers at the meeting, including those from the Woodland Trust, the Angling Trust and the Test and Itchen Association? He insists he does listen, but this comment indicates otherwise.

(v) suggests the Woodland Trust “haven’t actually looked at the most recent proposals [for options B and C] because we have now got massive buffers between development and the woods”, implying that, if they had, they would be content. REALLY? The fact is that the narrow gap between Upper Barn Copse and Crowdhill Copse, through which the proposed new road would travel, is approximately 175 metres and the Woodland Trust says that 100-200 metres is necessary as a buffer “to protect plant species from the effects of vehicle emissions from roads” (click here for more). That said, we have asked the Woodland Trust to confirm they have indeed looked at the most recent proposals. 

(vi) says that “every proposal for housing anywhere in Eastleigh requires some environmental impact and also crossing of the Itchen”, adding that the alternative options would “also require a crossing of the Itchen” and “would have greater environmental impact than the proposal that we are pushing forward with.” REALLY? The fact is that the alternative options do NOT currently include a new crossing of the Itchen.

We also dispute other assertions made by Keith House in this interview and will continue to work with local and national bodies to ensure Eastleigh’s Local Plan is properly evidence based. As things stand, the council’s preferred option of 5,200 houses and a major new road north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak is looking harder and harder to justify. 

Thank you again to everyone who joined us on 20 July to protest against EBC’s appalling plans for the north of the borough. Together, we will win this fight! 



Eastleigh Borough council say they want to see development on land south of Colden Common

Hampshire Chronicle, 21 July 2017: AN AREA near ancient woodland in Hampshire has been indicated as the preferred location to build more than 5,000 homes. Councillors from Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) indicated the area to the north and east of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak, and south of Colden Common (namely options B and C of EBC’s emerging Local Plan), as the preferred location for the new development. Community and council bosses presented their arguments during a council meeting last night. During the meeting, Jack Taylor of the Woodland Trust said: “Council and local authorities around the UK need to be looking at building more resilient landscapes, not less. We are concerned that option B and C would be a clear step back from these sustainable development principles.”



Packham hits out at homes

Daily Mirror, 25 July 2017: WILDLIFE presenter Chris Packham has lashed out at plans to build 5,000 homes in countryside near where he grew up as “a grotesque act of eco-vandalism”. The BBC Springwatch host, 56, said developing the rural area near Eastleigh, Hants, was a “vanity of short-term thinking.” He urged council chiefs to consider available brownfield sites instead. But Keith House of Eastleigh Borough Council insisted: “We’re committed to getting the right homes in the right places.” To view a photocopy of the article, click here.


BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham attacks plans for 5,000 homes on area of countryside near where he grew up as a ‘grotesque act of eco-vandalism’

Daily Mail, 24 July 2017: BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham has described controversial plans to build 5,000 new homes on an area of countryside near where he grew up as “a grotesque act of eco-vandalism” and urged councillors to change their minds. The 56-year-old naturalist has asked that Eastleigh Borough Council in Hampshire reconsider plans for a new housing development in Fair Oak and Bishopstoke. He said he acknowledged the need for new housing in the borough, but said more suitable brownfield sites are available to fulfil the demand. He added: “I am afraid I see this development as a grandiose vanity of short term thinking and I am appalled by the short termism and scant regard for the future of those who live in the area.”




EBC concedes it still lacks the evidence to pursue options B and C in its Local Plan. Thank you!

ADD UPDATE, 23 July 2017: Thank you very much to everyone who came to Hedge End last Thursday evening for Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)’s meeting on its emerging Local Plan and to protest against the council’s preference to build 5,200 new houses and a major new road north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (options B and C). Thank you too to all of you who delivered leaflets, held placards, and sent messages of support in your absence. The meeting was absolutely packed (around 500 people) and even required a video link to the foyer!

As expected, it was a marathon meeting but we firmly believe that our message is getting through to councillors that they must work harder to engage with the community.

Significantly, the council made a last-minute change to the motion in order to emphasise the point that it doesn’t yet have the evidence to make a decision on which of the two ‘strategic growth options’ (SGOs) it should pursue. This followed a challenge from ADD earlier in the day when we presented legal opinion from our planning barrister, Hereward Phillpot QC, explaining that voting on the original motion would have jeopardised the chances of the Local Plan being approved by the planning inspector next year. Not only does a Local Plan have to be based on evidence, but every step in the process must be evidence based too. Evidence cannot therefore be collated retrospectively. Eastleigh is still without data and analysis on traffic modelling, habitats and even on the number of houses needed.

Whilst we welcomed the council’s last-minute concession, we think it is unlikely to have been sufficient to satisfy the planning inspector next year. This is because the progress that councillors were asked to “note” showed a clear preference for options B and C and made little mention of the other options nor any suggestion of testing them further.

Representatives from many parish councils spoke including Bishosptoke, Fair Oak and Horton Heath, Colden Common, Upham, Owslebury and West End. All bar West End expressed deep concern about options B and C. West End representatives made clear that option E (in Allington Lane) was of concern to their residents, but they were also keen not to promote options B and C.

Richard Izard, chair of Colden Common and a Winchester City Councillor, complained about lack of consultation and predicted that, in their current form, the council’s plans would not be accepted by the planning inspector.  Sue Cook, a Twyford parish as well as a City Councillor, criticised EBC for lack of communication and failure to co-operate with Winchester City Council and the parish councils that border options B and C in Winchester’s district. 

Jack Taylor, a campaigner from the Woodland Trust, outlined why building close to sites of ancient woodland (there are five in options B and C) damages the woods and why the woodlands matter. Jeremy Legge, Director of the Test and Itchen Association, spoke about concerns over the Itchen (which the planned new road would have to cross), as did Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, who described the Itchen as “our coral reef, our rain forest” – such is its significance as a natural habitat. During the meeting, it was also announced that Friends of the Earth (Southampton and Eastleigh) had also thrown its weight behind the campaign to stop options B and C.

Representatives from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Bishop’s Waltham Society and Stokewood Surgery also shared their concerns about options B and C, whilst representatives from local Scouts and Brownies emphasised how important the countryside is for children’s development and how – if options B and C went ahead – local children may not be able to afford to travel to further afield to access it.

Mims Davies, MP for Eastleigh, spoke about the importance of Local Plans and how significant she believes support for ancient woodland should be. She is Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees.

After a short break, the councillors debated the motion. Most expressed how they wanted there to be more engagement with the public and organisations and that decisions should not be taken ahead of the evidence. Indeed, several Lib Dem councillors said they were relieved that they were not being asked to choose options B and C that evening because they would have had to vote against on the basis of what had been put before them thus far. That said, the motion to “note progress” – something Keith House, leader of the council, stressed several times – was carried.

The vote was recorded and several councillors voted against or abstained, including some of the Lib Dems.

ADD is pleased that the councillors stressed that they were not ready to take a decision, and we welcome the call for greater dialogue. But the meeting does call into question the council’s ability to gather a full suite of evidence in line with its timetable (its aim is to submit its Local Plan to the Secretary of State next spring). Indeed, unless the expressed desire to engage and cooperate is acted upon, and pros and cons of all the options are properly evaluated, Eastleigh runs the risk of being without a Local Plan for even longer than anticipated.

With the support of thousands of local residents and many local and national organisations, we will continue our fight for an evidence-based Local Plan for Eastleigh until our battle is won. Thank you again to everybody who has supported us so far. Please keep spreading the word about EBC’s shocking plans. We need everyone to know and as many supporters as possible for the cause.


Campaigners say plans for 5,000 homes near ancient woodland WILL be thrown out as row continues

Daily Echo, 22 July 2017: CAMPAIGNERS think that a scheme to build 5,200 homes near ancient woodland in Hampshire will be thrown out. As previously reported, Eastleigh Borough Council has indicated the area to the north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (options B and C) as the preferred location for the huge new development. However, during a council meeting held on Thursday night, councillors stressed that more evidence is needed before taking a decision. John Lauwerys of ADD said: “We believe that the evidence, when it is all complete, will prove… that options B and C are not the best options. Even if the council choose B and C we’ll keep fighting because we believe that the plan will be found unsound by the planning inspector.”


Hundreds expected at meeting over plans to build 5,200 homes near ancient woodland in Fair Oak and Bishopstoke

Daily Echo, 20 July 2017: HUNDREDS of residents are expected to pack a meeting over plans to build more than 5,000 homes near ancient woodland in Hampshire. Tonight Eastleigh Borough Council will indicate the area to the north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak as the preferred location for a new development which could see 5,200 new homes and a new access road north of Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak. Mark Baylis, 64, member of ADD, said: “Any development should preserve the character of the area, respecting the fact that it includes much of the borough’s most important and sensitive wildlife sites. [This] plan would create a large urban sprawl in the most environmentally sensitive parts of the borough and away from existing public transport and motorway links.”


Eastleigh Local Plan – key meeting tonight – ADD writes to councillors with expert legal and planning opinion

ADD UPDATE, 20 July 2017: Ahead of Eastleigh Borough Council’s critical meeting TONIGHT (Thursday 20 July) to decide on its Local Plan options (at which we hope to see as many of you as possible – details here), ADD has this afternoon sent the following email to all Eastleigh Borough Councillors individually:


Dear Councillor,

Eastleigh Local Plan Review: Emerging Approach

This evening, Eastleigh Borough Council will be asked to identify its preferred option for the location of the Strategic Growth Option. Many residents, affected parish councils and organisations such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England and The Woodland Trust, are concerned that that the options for meeting the demand for new housing in Eastleigh Borough are being driven by developers, and that you, the councillors, are being asked to make a decision against a wholly inadequate evidence base. With this in mind, Action against Destructive Development (ADD) has commissioned a report from planning consultants West Waddy and from our appointed barrister, Hereward Phillpot QC. I apologise for the late circulation of these reports – you will appreciate that there has been very little time in which to assess the content of the Review and such appendices as accompany it – but I would respectfully ask that you consider them before you vote this evening on the Local Plan Review. If you have time to read no more than two paragraphs, I would particularly draw your attention to paragraphs 7(b) and 8 of Hereward Phillpot’s report.

Yours sincerely,

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell
Action against Destructive Development



To watch a 13 year-old’s video on what’s being planned, click here.


REMINDER: Meeting on Eastleigh Local Plan, this THURSDAY, 20 July – be there or be built on!

ADD REMINDER, 18 July 2017: An important reminder to everyone living in Eastleigh or the Winchester Southern Parishes that Eastleigh Borough Council will be making a key decision regarding its emerging Local Plan at a public meeting this Thursday, 20 July. In particular, the council has said in its papers for the meeting that it wishes to pursue plans for a MONSTER HOUSING SPRAWL (5,000+ new houses and a major new road) north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak and south of Colden Common, Owslebury and Upham.

The meeting will be held at 7pm at the Kings Community Church, Upper Northam Road, Hedge End, Southampton, SO30 4BZ. Please come and protest against this wanton destruction of our beautiful countryside.

At the council’s meeting on this subject on 15 December last year, Keith House, leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, tweeted the above picture and comment. What he failed to mention was that virtually every single one of the 300+ people who attended STRONGLY OPPOSED the plans his council still wishes to pursue.

As ADD said in this statement yesterday, the council is “totally isolated” on this issue. The plan is opposed across the political spectrum, by all three local MPs, by conservation bodies such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Woodland Trust, by angling, Church and medical organisations, by planning experts and local parish councils. The TV naturalist Chris Packham has described it as “Eco-vandalism”.

Even if the council continues to ignore the vast and growing opposition to its plans (known as options B and C) and fails to abandon them this time, a big turnout of local people and organisations WILL make a significant difference when we demonstrate the strength of local opposition to the independent planning inspector.







Crunch day for plans for housing near Eastleigh

Hampshire Chronicle, 17 July 2017: BATTLE lines are being drawn over plans to build more than 5,000 homes and community facilities near ancient woodland. During a council meeting being held this Thursday, 20 July, Eastleigh Borough Council will be indicating the area to the north and east of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak as the preferred location for a new development which could see 5,200 new homes, shops, schools, open spaces and a new access road north of Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak. The scheme will have a major impact on villages such Colden Common, Twyford, Upham and Bishop’s Waltham. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at 7pm at Kings Community Church, Upper Northam Road, Hedge End, SO30 4BZ. A large turnout is expected.