ADD UPDATE: EBC Leader Keith House replies to ADD message

ADD UPDATE, 16 November 2016: Last week we invited Keith House, Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC), to respond to two recent letters supporting ADD’s position, namely one from Mims Davies, MP for Eastleigh, and the other jointly from Mims Davies, George Hollingbery, MP for Meon Valley, and Steve Brine, MP for Winchester.

On Sunday 13 November, Deborah Mitchell, received the following reply from Keith House:

Dear Deborah‎,

Having reviewed the content of your website it would not be appropriate for the Borough Council to comment on yours or any other one-sided campaign group’s site.  The Council has a duty to weigh policy objectives rationally and will do so over the coming weeks and months. ADD can best add value if it contributes in this spirit rather than seeking to simplify complex issues from a partisan perspective.  We quite appreciate this is difficult given that planning issues can be emotive, but this is in the best long-term interests of the Borough as a whole.

Yours sincerely,

Keith House
Leader, Eastleigh Borough Council

We are grateful to Councillor House for taking the time to reply although we are disappointed that he has opted not to respond to the MPs’ comments, as we had asked.

As a group of local residents, neither linked to nor against any political party, we actually share much more than he thinks we do.

We share Councillor House’s concern about the complexity of the issues: this is why we are engaging professional consultants in planning, traffic and the environment in order to build our understanding and guide our responses.  We are giving up considerable time to assessing this information objectively, in the hope that we can contribute meaningfully to this critical decision for our area’s future.

We share too EBC’s objective of having a Local Plan that is in the best long-term interests of the Borough as a whole and welcome Councillor House’s long-held recognition that it makes sense not to rush into a decision until councillors have access to all the evidence, including – we hope – highways ‎evidence.

We also share Councillor House’s spirit of cooperation.

We therefore invite Councillor House and all other EBC councillors to engage with us to reach the best possible solution, both for the current population and future generations to come.


Steve Brine MP expresses support for ADD at 14 Nov Public Meeting

At the Colden Common Public Meeting on 14 November 2016, Steve Brine, MP for Winchester, asked for the following statement expressing his support for ADD to be read out:

“First of all, a HUGE thank you to ADD for all they are doing. The group have, from a standing start, put together an effective and coordinated campaign which is never easy.

I am in regular contact with ADD and also with my colleagues in Parliament, Mims Davies MP and George Hollingbery MP. We are as one in wanting Eastleigh Borough Council to listen to your aims and objectives. The Council are seemingly wanting to impose options B & C as its preferred way forward for mass development, and the consequences this would have for my constituents in Colden Common, which while under Winchester City Council directly borders Eastleigh, are obvious.

We want the Council to look towards solving traffic and infrastructure issues before committing to any final option, as in its current state the leader, Cllr House (and his colleagues), are pushing against the wishes of residents and doing so without proper consultation. These proposals will require massive and so far unfunded new road infrastructure to deal with the huge increase in traffic and the countryside threatened is of the highest quality which is why it’s so important we have CPRE support here.

I look forward to receiving the read out from tonight’s meeting and to continue working, alongside my parliamentary colleagues, with the ADD campaign group. You ARE making a difference so keep going.”



ADD UPDATE: Is anyone in favour of options B and C?

ADD UPDATE, 11 November 2016: Nearly five months after refreshing our website and, more generally, committing to contribute more forcibly to the debate about Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)’s forthcoming Local Plan, over 1,400 people have told us they are opposed to the ‎proposed development of 6,000+ new houses and a major new road in, and north of, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak, namely EBC’s options B and C.  We have also heard strong criticism for these plans from the three affected MPs, as well as 20 organisations with a direct stake in the area.  Lastly, we have also heard doubts about these plans from local borough councillors.

Extraordinarily, bar some remarks from EBC Leader Keith House alluding to his support for options B and C, we have not yet heard a single voice in favour of these options, or indeed any opposition to our message at all.  Given our strong desire to provide a balanced view – our campaign is not linked to, or against, any political party – we would love to do so.

We recognise we must build new houses but believe options B and C to be the most destructive and unsustainable of all EBC’s options.  However if you prefer these options over other ones, such as D and E, please do email us to convey your perspective – particularly if you are an elected official (whether or not you are in a leadership role).

Thank you.



ADD UPDATE: New Public Meeting, 7.00pm, 14 November 2016, Colden Common Community Centre

ADD UPDATE, 29 October 2016: We are holding another public meeting at 7.00pm on Monday 14 November 2016 at the Colden Common Community Centre (St. Vigor Way, Colden Common, SO21 1UU) to explain what we’ve found out so far about Eastleigh Borough Council’s developing Local Plan.

This meeting follows similar recent public gatherings in Upham on 29 September 2016 and in Bishopstoke on 17 October 2016, and is intended mainly for residents of Colden Common, Highbridge, Brambridge and Twyford. That said, if you missed either of the first two meetings and would like to come, we’d be delighted to see you!

We want everyone to know that EBC is seriously considering the development of 6,000+ houses (over three times the size of Colden Common) and a major new road in the area north of Bishopstoke (see map above) that will:

  • Destroy much-loved, precious countryside.
  • Destroy the unique identity of each of our communities.
  • Destroy our quality of life in many ways, including through increased traffic congestion and pressure on local services.

If you value this area, please support us by:

  • Signing our petition to get the critical Chickenhall Lane Link Road built as soon as possible. This long-planned road, favoured by many stakeholders, is vital to allowing more appropriate development options.
  • Donating to the cause – whilst we are volunteers, we have also hired planning, traffic / highways consultants and other professionals to ensure the highest possible chance of success. We’ve raised £18,600 but will need c.£50,000. Email us now at [email protected]
  • Contacting us at [email protected] to offer your services – whatever you feel able to do (deliver leaflets, arrange an event, offer your professional skills), we would love to hear from you.

About Action against Destructive Development

Our campaign has been formed by a coalition of residents’ associations and parish councils. We are local people concerned about the impact this ill-considered development will have on our lives. We recognise we must build new houses, but this location is too destructive and the new development will be unsustainable. We are fighting to get our message across before it is too late. The campaign is not linked to, or against, any political party.

We desperately need your support. Please join us on 14 November to find out more!


EBC Leader House stumbles on B and C traffic questions

ADD UPDATE, 8 November 2016:  As ADD supporters know all too well, one of the main objections to options B and C of Eastleigh Borough Council’s Local Plan is the implications for traffic in the area north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak.  The proposed Bishopstoke ‘link road’ (or so-called bypass), if indeed this folly is affordable, would not only be an environmental disaster but would also fail to deal with the traffic.  Given the predictable bottleneck caused by the tiny ‎Allbrook railway bridge, the much-increased volumes of traffic would look for other ways to reach the M3 and beyond.

A transcript of a recent Winchester Southern Parishes meeting, at which EBC Leader Keith House spoke about EBC’s Local Plan process, shows that House himself is far from convinced by, or indeed abreast of, the traffic arguments associated with options B and C.

In a Q&A session after House’s set-piece remarks, an Owslebury parish councillor asked him: “Our main concern in Owslebury is traffic, or traffic volume.  Do you have any data that speculates properly on the amount of traffic that you think is going to come north out of this, because at the moment we have a major problem in Owslebury, which there is no plan to alleviate.  Basically, everyone coming from Portsmouth, Bishop’s Waltham, Waltham Chase, Wickham, Fair Oak, and beyond, doesn’t go through Twyford and Shawford onto the M3, they try and get there through Owslebury.

“There is no capacity left on those roads, they are dangerous, and yet it appears that a rule of thumb says that 20-25% of the people who could live in those [6,000+] homes we are now talking about are going to try to do that. It isn’t going to work.”‎

House’s reply, which was both rambling and unconvincing, betrayed a remarkable lack of attention to detail, given his position and the magnitude of the proposed development.  “The Borough Council is not the highway authority,” he said, “so we have to be reliant on data given to us by Hampshire County Council [HCC], as the highway authority, so we are a bit ‘piggy in the middle’ on the traffic issue, between the development interests, who will always say, ‘it works, doesn’t it?’… and the County that has to model projections based on what the developers tell them.”

“Hampshire claim that their modelling is pretty sophisticated and that it takes into account just about every factor possible coming out of a new development.  Their modelling, as we understand it at the moment, suggests that the effect of creating this new northern bypass, effectively from Fair Oak across to Allbrook, will actually take traffic off roads in the Owslebury area, because it will give traffic coming from Fair Oak and Bishopstoke and south an escape route to the M3 where they are trying to get to, rather than going through the existing villages.  Now I can’t comment on whether that’s true or not, I can only say that that’s what the County Council [claims].”‎

And then came the bombshell.  Pressed on whether he had seen the data he was talking about, House replied: “I haven’t personally seen the data, again I am not a traffic engineer, so I wouldn’t be confident in analysing it anyway.  It’s a work in progress at the moment, as I understand it, and we are expecting more of that to come to pass before we take our own reports through to cabinet in December.”

Given House’s current state of preparedness, let’s hope he and his fellow councillors do not, as we fear, plump solely for‎ options B and C at their meetings in December, but rather keep as many options on the table as possible.  They are clearly not ready to make an informed decision – and to do so would not only be a dereliction of duty but a disservice to everyone, for many generations to come, who will have pick up the pieces.


ADD UPDATE: EBC Leader House stonewalled by Network Rail over Local Plan

ADD UPDATE, 5 November 2016: In the run-up to Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)’s cabinet and full council meetings in December, Council Leader Keith House has been speaking with people regarding his thoughts about EBC’s impending Local Plan.

At a Winchester Southern Parishes meeting on 24 October, House spoke about some of the representations his Council had received from organisations during the consultation period at the beginning of the year.

As a newly available transcript of the meeting shows, House said that while certain organisations had provided some “pretty helpful suggestions”, others sent in “much less helpful responses”, whilst Network Rail had not offered a response at all.  House described this as “not unusual”, adding: “We find Network Rail one of the hardest agencies to deal with.”

As to why Network Rail didn’t respond, we can only speculate.  One possibility must be that they were stunned into silence by the absurdity of the suggestion that, under options B and C, a potential 30,000 extra car journeys per day would be expected to travel under the Allbrook railway bridge, which is not only too low but prone to flooding too.

As Liberal Democrat Councillor for Eastleigh South Paul Bicknell, himself a train driver, said at the Council meeting on 21 July: “I go up and down past [the] Allbrook [bridge] and I’ve yet to work out, as I go past, how on earth you’re going to bore a tunnel underneath!”  Quite.


Mims Davies updates constituents on her work for a viable Local Plan

In an email on 1 November 2016 to Gin Tidridge, Independent Counsellor for Bishopstoke, Mims Davies, MP for Eastleigh, sets out what she has been doing to win government backing for the Chickenhall Lane Link Road, a recent petition for which now has over 740 signatories, and her strong concerns over Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)’s options B and C for its Local Plan.  She has recently met senior ministers to discuss both issues and promises to continue to campaign tirelessly to ensure EBC adopts a Local Plan that is supported by local residents.  ADD urges all elected officials to share their views with us on the Local Plan and commits to sharing all views equally on our website.


Councillors raise questions about Allbrook bridge, answers unclear

As supporters of ADD are aware, if Eastleigh Borough Council proceed with options B and C for its Local Plan, it will build a new North Bishopstoke link road from Mortimers Lane in the east towards the M3 in the west, squeezing under the Allbrook railway bridge along the way. With the Plan’s 6,000+ new houses creating an estimated 30,000 more daily car journeys, this bridge is clearly too narrow, too low, and too prone to flooding to cope (it even causes serious traffic jams today). With no plans to do anything about it, this bridge is one factor making a mockery of the viability of options B and C.

Newly available transcripts of recent meetings with EBC councillors, including Leader Keith House, demonstrate that councillors too are concerned about this bridge, and far from clear how this problem would be resolved should they favour options B and C.

At the Council meeting on 21 July 2016, Councillor Paul Bicknell, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Eastleigh South, said: “I happen to be a train driver and I go up and down past [the] Allbrook [bridge] and I’ve yet to work out, as I go past, how on earth you’re going to bore a tunnel underneath!”

At the same meeting, speaking about the wider problems associated with options B and C, Councillor Anne Winstanley, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Bishopstoke West, and Deputy Leader of the Council, also said: “Are we sure we could get under the railway at Allbrook?”

More recently, at a Winchester Southern Parishes meeting in Bishop’s Waltham on 24 October 2016, Council Leader Keith House seemed very uncertain about the answer. Asked how he was “going to deal with” the problem of the Allbrook bridge, he gave the following unconvincing reply:

“The work that has been going on, and this is not Council work, this is developers’ work, um, the developer promoting the option B and C patches, mainly option B patch, north of Bishopstoke, which is Highwood, have done a package of transport work, which they worked alongside Hampshire County Council as highway authority, who believe they can solve all those issues, technically.

“Now, I’m not an engineer, so I don’t understand all the detail, but they believe that a route can be made to work as far as the issues around the railway line are concerned, and that solution beyond getting to the railway bridge is then to swivel behind Allbrook, with a new road that leads up onto the link road to Junction 12, rather than taking traffic into Allbrook.”

Asked about the propensity for the bridge to flood, House replied: “My understanding and, as I say, we are finalising the transport work at the moment, is that the County Council as highway authority don’t believe there are showstoppers with that route. I don’t pretend to understand the techniques behind it, but that is my understanding.”

Should EBC take the disastrous decision to proceed with options B and C, let’s hope Keith House, and all his councillors, fully understand how they are going to deal with this problem! Otherwise, on their heads be the resulting catastrophic traffic congestion for the area!


ADD UPDATE: Doctors’ surgeries object to EBC’s options B and C

ADD UPDATE, 20 October 2016: Stokewood Surgery, Fair Oak, has written to Eastleigh Borough Council saying that they would seriously struggle to cope with the increased patient numbers options B and C would bring.  This position was unanimously agreed in a meeting with other local surgeries, Blackthorn Surgery (Hamble), Bursledon Surgery, Hedge End Medical Practice, St Luke’s Surgery (Botley) and West End Surgery.

Writes Senior Partner Dr Richard Shelly on behalf of all the partners at Stokewood Surgery: “We [the above local surgeries] considered that options A, B and C would create the most difficulties for the practices.  Those most directly affected felt these options would be an intolerable strain on the surgeries and there is no easy way to increase premises to provide adequate medical services to the patients from these new developments.”

[Options] D and E, while also adding considerable strain to the current practices, may possibly be manageable with some financial contribution towards enlarging premises (from the developers) and in rental reimbursement agreement from the West Hampshire Clinical Commissioners.”


ADD UPDATE: 200+ Bishopstoke residents cram in to 17 Oct ADD meeting

ADD UPDATE, 20 October 2016: More than 200 Bishopstoke residents crammed into the local Methodist church on 17 October for a meeting called by ADD, opposing plans by Eastleigh Borough Council to build an extra 6,500 homes in the area.

Gin Tidridge of ADD told the meeting: “Unless we do something, we’re going to lose what makes this area special, and I feel passionate about that.”

One ADD supporter, Rob Byrne, said the Council’s plans threatened outstanding countryside and woodland and would destroy the gaps separating individual communities. “We’re not a suburb of Southampton, and we don’t want to become one,” he said, to thunderous applause.

The proposals are set out in the Eastleigh development plan, published for consultation by the Council last December. Although ten options were initially under consideration, protesters believe that Council leaders have long privately favoured options B and C, involving big new developments in North Bishopstoke and Fair Oak as well as a major new link road. The additional housing would be equivalent to two new towns the size of Bishop’s Waltham.

The meeting heard a message of support from local MP Mims Davies, read by her assistant, who said on her behalf: “I completely oppose Options B and C. I will continue to stand alongside Action against Destructive Development.’ Neighbouring MPs Steve Brine (Winchester) and George Hollingbery (Meon Valley), whose constituencies would be affected by the plans, are also backing the campaign.

One of the biggest cheers of the evening came when a member of the audience said he was “shocked” that none of the four borough councillors for Bishopstoke had accepted invitations to attend. “They’re supposed to be representing our interests, but [aren’t listening] to our views,” he said.

“The silence from Bishopstoke’s councillors has been deafening,” added Mr Byrne. Several other speakers called on their local representatives to engage with the community in discussing the plans.

ADD member David Ashe told the audience the proposed new link road from Mortimers Lane to Allbrook would not work as a bypass, and was not costed.

There were also complaints that Eastleigh’s proposals do not make sufficient allowance for vital infrastructure such as surgeries, schools, water and sewerage.

Options B and C generated nearly 600 objections – far more than all other options combined – when the Eastleigh development plan went out to public consultation. Opponents include the Woodland Trust and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England. ADD agree that Eastleigh needs new housing, but argue that there are more suitable, more accessible and more environmentally friendly sites available in the borough.

The meeting’s organiser, parish councillor Gin Tidridge, said she was delighted with the turn-out and interest shown by local residents. Although extra chairs were found to accommodate those who wanted to take part, there was standing room only for late arrivals.

‘I hope the level of interest and strength of feeling shown tonight will persuade the council to look seriously at our ideas,’ said Mrs Tidridge.