EBC recommends hostile application to build in option C, pre-empting Local Plan

ADD OPEN LETTER TO BISHOPSTOKE, FAIR OAK AND HORTON HEATH LOCAL AREA COMMITTEE, 18 January 2017: As some of you will have seen, developer Drew Smith has submitted an application to build 250 houses at Pembers Hill Farm on Mortimers Lane, within option C of Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)’s emerging Local Plan.  On the back of this application, which is recommended by EBC in its ‘report pack’ (see Item 7, pp 19-62), ADD has written the following open letter to the borough councillors for Bishopstoke, Fair Oak and Horton Heath requesting that they reject it at their Local Area Committee meeting next Wednesday, 25 January.   ADD urges all our supporters to come to this meeting at 7.00pm next Wednesday.  It will be in the Main Hall at Stoke Park Junior School, Underwood Road, Bishopstoke, SO50 6GR.  If this application is approved, it will be the first realisation of our fears…


Dear Councillors Trevor Mignot (Chair), Rob Rushton (Vice Chair), Vickieye Parkinson-MacLachlan, Angela Roling, Desmond Scott, Anne Winstanley and Nicholas Couldrey,

We urge extreme caution with regards to the outline planning application for Pembers Hill Farm that you are due to determine at your 25 January Local Area Committee meeting.

What particularly concerns us is that much of the justification from Drew Smith for bringing this application forward (see page 1 and clause 6.1.4 in this document) and many of the comments in your officers’ report refer to the “strategic development area” north of Bishopstoke and the so-called North Bishopstoke Link Road – key elements of so-called options B and C in your emerging Local Plan – as if they had already been agreed.

For example, clause 150 on page 55 of your EBC ‘report pack’ states: “It is recognized that for the development to proceed it would need to assist in delivering substantial mitigation solutions which would be required of it as part of [a] strategic development area. This infrastructure includes a northern link road linking Fair Oak to the M3/north Eastleigh via Allbrook, and other major highway improvements.”

If you follow the recommendation from your officers and approve the application, you will be sending a clear message to your electorate that you have determined that option C should proceed in advance of the Local Plan – indeed even in advance of a draft version of the Local Plan.

And this will be despite claims from many EBC councillors, including some of you, that no decision on the Local Plan has yet been taken.

In short, if you approve this application, it will indicate that the Local Plan has been predetermined by yourselves.

With best wishes

The team at ADD



Weighing up EBC’s Local Plan options: evidence firmly points to Allington Lane

ADD UPDATE, 16 January 2017: As Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) enters the final few months of its deliberations over its emerging Local Plan, councillors are weighing up the pros and cons of two strategic development areas: one in Allington Lane (an area previously earmarked by EBC for such a development, though no longer favoured) and the other in Allbook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (a new option currently favoured by the council).

In this update, we set out as clearly as we can why we believe the proposals in Allington Lane are the more sustainable, deliverable and affordable of the two. 

To do this, we have drawn from a wide variety of documents, including those prepared by EBC (until it unaccountably decided to change its mind); Bovis/Hallam Land, the developers now promoting Allington; and our own research, including from consultants West Waddy. 

Across a range of critical criteria, here’s how the two proposals stack up: 


Allington Lane: Well located relative to Eastleigh, Hedge End, West End and Southampton, which offer a range of major transport options, facilities, services and employment opportunities. 


Allbrook/Bishopstoke/Fair Oak: Not well connected to transport infrastructure, facilities, services and employment opportunities. 


Allington Lane: Site is relatively flat and existing features of the landscape limit intervisibility with surrounding area.  There is the opportunity to provide gaps which are clearly defined and well managed.  The gaps would be wholly within West End Parish Council and Eastleigh Borough Council.  Options D and E do not occupy either the Local or Strategic Gaps which the council identified in the Eastleigh Borough Local Plan 2001-2011.  PUSH policy on gaps states: “In defining the extent of a gap, no more land than is necessary to prevent the coalescence of settlements should be included, having regard to maintaining their physical and visual separation.” 


Allbrook/Bishopstoke/Fair Oak: Significant changes in levels across the areas, combined with large areas of open land, create significant intervisibility with areas some distance away from the sites.  Likely to be genuine difficulties in avoiding perception of coalescence of settlements.  Even if gaps are provided, they are likely to be reliant in part on land outside of control of parish councils within Eastleigh Borough, i.e. Winchester City Council.


Allington Lane: Genuine opportunity to promote high levels of self-containment and reduce reliance on car-based travel (minimising the impact on the local highway network) through promotion of public transport, cycle and pedestrian routes as an alternative means of travel.  Potential to facilitate new railway station/transport hub, to take advantage of spare capacity within public transport network as well as provide for new routes.  Improvements to highway network also proposed to address existing congestion issues.  Click here for more.


Allbrook/Bishopstoke/Fair Oak: Remote from rail network and very limited bus services with limited potential to improve either.  Topography of site and remoteness from facilities and services further limit potential for other non-car based travel as a realistic alternative.  Therefore development will be car dependent and reliant on the provision of a £30 million+ new road which will have ecological impacts and is of questionable benefit, not least because of the narrow Allbrook railway bridge under which it would have to pass. EBC’s own infrastructure report, published last December, reveals a multitude of problems with this option.  How the road would be paid for also remains unclear.  Talk of EBC adding to its alleged debts of £100 million+ by borrowing the money seems imprudent.


Allington Lane:  Nondescript, urban fringe landscape most of which has no intrinsic quality worthy of protection for its own sake.  The site does not fall within or contain a rare landscape type and contains no landscape features or elements of especial rarity which could not be retained as part of the design response. EBC’s 2000 transport strategy recommends that “no greenfield sites be made available for housing development other than at Allington”. 


Allbrook/Bishopstoke/Fair Oak: High quality attractive landscape in sensitive location close to the South Downs National Park and visible from a significant distance.  EBC’s 2011 landscape character assessment designates large parts of the land as ‘Historic Park and Gardens’.


Allington Lane: Ecological interest within the site comparatively small compared to North Bishopstoke / Fair Oak. Indirect impacts due to additional traffic across River Itchen will need to be tested further in combination with other emerging proposals. 


Allbrook/Bishopstoke/Fair Oak: Much of land identified by EBC in 2002 as a priority biodiversity area.  Separately, a 2011 landscape character assessment supported by EBC, designated it as ‘Historic Park and Gardens’.  Accommodates the River Itchen Special Area of Conservation, a significant number of headwaters, a bow lake, chalk streams, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, two sites of Ancient Natural Woodland, numerous Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation, and contains protected species.  Potential for significant impact on sites, including through additional traffic across River Itchen.  The Woodland Trust has stated that it opposes the plans North of Bishopstoke. Concerns too over proximity to South Downs National Park.  


Allington Lane: Very close to Itchen Valley Country Park and other open spaces within the vicinity of the site through existing and new public rights of way.  Will also provide significant new recreational opportunities within the site.


Allbrook/Bishopstoke/Fair Oak: Site currently provides a network of public rights of way which are well used for circular walks to take advantage of landscape and countryside views.  However it is poorly related to existing open spaces.  Opportunities for good levels of new recreation open space limited and existing amenity value of views from rights of way network threatened.

EBC aims to publish its pre-submission draft plan this spring. We will therefore be re-doubling our efforts over the next few months to demonstrate to decision-makers why – if indeed we need all these houses at all – the better outcome, by far, for the borough will be development in Allington Lane rather than in Allbrook/Bishopstoke/Fair Oak.  As the above shows, the evidence so far firmly points to this conclusion.  As new evidence becomes available over the next few months, we will react to it fairly and objectively.  We urge councillors to do the same.


Uncovered: 2000 EBC paper recommending development at Allington Lane

ADD UPDATE, 15 January 2017: Researchers helping ADD have done it again!  Two weeks ago we uncovered this document, supported by Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) in 2011 at the time of its last Local Plan process, which designates land it now wishes to build on in Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (so-called options B and C for its emerging Local Plan) as ‘Historic Park and Gardens’.  (Read article here.)

This time we have gone one step further: believe it or not, our team has unearthed a 2000 Eastleigh transport strategy paper, supported by the then council leader, Keith House, the very same one who leads the council today, which recommends “that no greenfield sites be made available for housing development other than at Allington” (today referred to as options D and E for its Local Plan).

Councillors Anne Winstanley, David Airey and Rupert Kyrle, who – like House – remain on the council’s cabinet today, also put their names to this document.  And yet, for some unknown reason, EBC has done a full 180 degree turn and decided that Allington is no longer fit for development and, instead, the borough’s finest green fields in Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak are the only place to take their newly devised scheme of 6,000+ new houses and a major new road.

EBC aims to publish its pre-submission draft plan this spring.  In the meantime, we will be re-doubling our efforts to demonstrate to decision-makers why – if indeed we need all these houses at all – the better outcome, by far, for the borough will be development in Allington Lane rather than in Allbrook/Bishopstoke/Fair Oak.  All the evidence, including that previously published by EBC, so far points to this conclusion.  As new evidence becomes available over the next few months, we will react to it fairly and objectively.  We urge councillors to do the same.


Gin Tidridge’s 15 Dec interview for BBC Radio Solent released

ADD UPDATE, 12 January 2017: Ahead of Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)’s last full council meeting on 15 December 2016, Gin Tidridge, a spokesperson for ADD and independent parish councillor at Bishopstoke, gave an interview to BBC Radio Solent on EBC’s deliberations concerning its emerging Local Plan.  We now have a clip of that interview so that those who were unable to hear it can now do so. As you’ll hear, Gin focuses on the ecological and traffic obstacles to options B and C, north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak, and urges EBC to think more carefully about the alternative options at Allington Lane.  She also hints at the reasons why EBC are currently preferring the Bishopstoke / Fair Oak option over the Allington Lane one.

To listen to the interview, click here.


New picture show displays Eastleigh locals’ love for Stoke Park countryside

Rob Byrne, 11 January 2017: Thanks to many local families sending in their photographs of our Stoke Park countryside, Rob Byrne has compiled a wonderful ‘picture show’ ‎depicting our love of these ancients woodlands and fields and the happiness and tranquility we gain from being in them.

As Eastleigh Borough Council enters the final few months of its Local Plan deliberations (we expect a decision in March/April), we urge councillors not to choose their proposals for 6,000+ new houses and a major new road north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (so-called options B and C), which would cut a swathe through this magnificent countryside.

Indeed, we should stress that whilst EBC claims its plans ‘save’ the woodlands per se, the proposed development on the inter-woodland fields would – as night follows day – seriously degrade them (eventually turning them into wildlife sterile areas ripe for later development).

As Rob Byrne says: “Councillors do not understand that they will destroy ancient woodland and the rare flora and fauna that live in the fields, hedgerows and water courses between the various woods and copses if these habitats are segmented by roads and housing… It is not enough to leave isolated areas of woodland to be cut off and strangled.  One wood isolated from another no more makes an ancient woodland than one councillor makes a council.”

In their messages to Rob, residents from across the borough and neighbouring areas variously described their time on the bridleways and footpaths of this countryside as “our escape”, “a link with our history”, “our time to relax with nature”, “our green lung”, and “our recreation space”.

Amazingly, it seems some people are still unaware of the council’s proposals on these inter-woodland fields, so – if you care for this part of the world – please do make everyone you know aware of EBC’s dastardly scheme.

We will only be able to fight these proposals successfully if we do so together.

To view Rob Byrne’s picture show, click here.


EBC confirms all Local Plan options remain on the table

ADD UPDATE, 6 January 2017: Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) has today responded to an article in the Daily Echo on 16 December 2016, which erroneously suggested that the council had chosen to pursue options B and C at its full council meeting on 15 December 2016. The article, under the headline “Eastleigh council agree local plan to build 6,000 homes on land north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak”, caused considerable concern, particularly to the several hundred people who had attended the meeting. In a statement to the Daily Echo, EBC confirmed that “no formal decision was taken by the council… and any future proposals will be subject to a full consultation process.”  We thank EBC for this clarification.  Click ‘more’ below to view EBC’s statement.


EBC’s Local Plan deliberations back under the microscope as new year begins

ADD UPDATE, 4 January 2016: Having enjoyed a relaxing Christmas break, ADD researchers are back at work gathering information to ensure Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) adheres to due process with regards to its Local Plan deliberations; is unable to ride roughshod over evidence it has previously supplied (and paid for through taxpayers’ money); and plays straight in its communications with the public.

As part of this work, we have uncovered this document, supported by EBC in 2011 at the time of its last Local Plan process, which gives a ‘landscape character assessment’ for Bishopstoke and Fair Oak.  It is important because, as readers know, EBC is now seriously considering that its new Local Plan should revolve around a ‘strategic development’ of 6,000+ new houses, and a major new road, on this same land (so-called options B and C).

It is striking, if not downright extraordinary, to compare a map on p.86 of the 2011 landscape character assessment, which shows land north of Bishopstoke designated as ‘Historic Parks and Gardens’ with the map on p.8 of the proposal by developers Highwood Group, which clearly shows that this land would be bulldozed if options B and C were allowed to go ahead.

How on earth could the council consider such a U-turn?  There is a suggestion, as local resident John Lauwerys said in his speech to councillors at the 15 December council meeting, that long-time Liberal Democrat leader Keith House “believes development in these [Bishopstoke/Fair Oak] areas might incur less opposition from potential Lib Dem voters than building elsewhere in Eastleigh.”  Voicing the hope of all residents with a faith in democracy, Lauwerys went on: “It would be outrageous if the future character of the whole borough were to be determined by party political interests and I am sure Lib Dem councillors will not allow this to be seen to be the case.”

Whatever the motivations of councillors, the majority still appear to believe they can convince locals (and no doubt themselves) about the merits of the plans for development in Bishopstoke and Fair Oak over the far more sensible ones around Allington Lane.

Take the ancient woodlands north of Bishopstoke, clearly marked in its 2011 landscape character assessment, as an example.  EBC claims that because the woodlands themselves would not be directly bulldozed by the proposed developments, life within them would be totally unaffected.

But, as the council itself admitted in its 2011 report (p.90, clause 4.117), a key issue for the area is “the number of ecological sites which need to be interconnected”.  As such, even if the woodlands are “saved”, the fact that development has been built around them will – as night follows day – seriously degrade them (eventually turning them into wildlife sterile areas that could later be developed).  Of course, the council knows this but can’t admit it.

As we wrote after EBC’s carefully worded news release following the 15 December council meeting (which gave the impression the Allington Lane proposals had been dropped when in fact all options remain on the table), growing awareness of this issue, both locally and nationally, means the spotlight will be shining brightly on Eastleigh’s councillors in 2017.  As the evidence becomes available over the next few months, local residents must have confidence that councillors will react to it fairly and without political prejudice.  The alternative would be truly dire for the borough and for its citizens’ belief in democracy – the bedrock of stability in our country.


Eastleigh Borough Council back local plan that pushes development towards Wickham, Bishops Waltham, Colden Common and Twyford

Hampshire Chronicle, 22 December 2016: CONTROVERSIAL plans for thousands of homes and a main road in countryside south of Winchester would be “catastrophic”, according to one city councillor.  A swathe of land south of villages including Colden Common and Twyford would be developed under plans being considered by Eastleigh Borough Council. Cllr Susan Cook who represents the two villages, spoke at a heated Eastleigh council meeting in Hedge End. As the council prepares its Local Plan, it agreed to focus its research on a strategic site across the north of the borough in the Bishopstoke and Fair Oak area, known as options B and C, and close to Colden Common. Development would include 6,000 homes and a bypass running between Fair Oak and Allbrook, linking to the M3.


Eastleigh councillors agree to keep open mind on Local Plan options

ADD UPDATE, 16 December 2016: A million thanks to the hundreds of local residents who travelled all the way to Hedge End last night to attend Eastleigh Borough Council’s meeting on its emerging Local Plan.  Thanks to the excellent representations from the public, councillors got a very clear message as to the level of opposition to the proposed development in Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak, so-called options B and C, and the growing mountain of evidence against them.  Of the external contributions to the meeting, only one person spoke in favour of options B and C – and that was an agent to the developers in that area!

Our long-held objective for the meeting was to ensure that councillors keep an open mind as to the two strategic options for the plan and act only on the basis of proper evidence.  Thanks to your support, we achieved this outcome.  Despite this morning’s comments from Council Leader Keith House implying all the work will now concentrate on options B and C and that the Allington Lane proposals are undeliverable, a clear majority of councillors recognised they do not yet have the evidence to choose between the options.  We are grateful to councillors for listening to our reasoned arguments and agreeing to keep all options on the table while further professional studies are carried out.

The way our community has come together with such energy to fight the unworkable plans in the north of the borough is truly terrific. The ADD team is now going to take a break for Christmas but we will be back, stronger than ever, in the new year.  If any of you would like to contribute to our efforts, either financially or intellectually, please let us know.  To the growing number of you who have already done so, thank you.  If you can do more, please do! If you have yet to contribute, please do think about what you can do.

All the evidence suggests we will – together – reach the right outcome but it’s clear we will need to work with the council to do so. Ultimately our objectives are the same: to give Eastleigh a much-needed Local Plan that works for the whole of the borough.

With all best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year,



Mims Davies MP reacts to Eastleigh decision on options B and C for Local Plan

Mims Davies MP, 16 December 2016: Mims Davies MP last night joined many activists, residents, parish councillors and community groups who attended Eastleigh Borough Council’s meeting on its Local Plan in Hedge End. At the meeting, the council agreed to continue pursuing all options but focus its feasibility studies on large strategic sites across the north of the borough in Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (so-called options B and C). Davies said: “I am as disappointed as many of the members of the public with the current outcome where options B and C will be the focus going forward for further investigation. I believe [council leader] Keith House and his group have got this wrong and they know it.”