Update on Eastleigh Local Plan – the story so far

ADD UPDATE, 29 March 2017: A big ‘thank you’ to all who have helped us make real progress in the campaign to save our area from destructive, ill-considered development – otherwise known as options B and C of Eastleigh’s emerging Local Plan.

On 15 December more than 300 residents attended a full council meeting in Hedge End, requiring an overflow room with TV monitor for those who could not get into the chamber itself. Beforehand we sent all councillors a consultant’s report that demolished the case for options B and C (6,000+ new houses and a new link road to the M3 at Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak – see above).

The report also demonstrated convincingly that alternative options in Allington Lane offer a much more deliverable, people-friendly and environmentally sound location for new housing.

We were delighted that the council listened, voting unanimously to call for more facts before making any decision. (An inaccurate report in the Daily Echo saying that B and C had been chosen was subsequently denied by the council’s press office).

It was, therefore, a disappointment when on 25 January, in the face of another full house of passionate residents, six Bishopstoke and Fair Oak councillors waved through consent for 250 houses at Pembers Hill Farm in Fair Oak. There was no real debate, just clearly pre-prepared speeches of regret. At least the chairman was careful to emphasise that this had nothing to do with B and C. We’d love to believe him!

What next?

ADD believes that the tide is turning in the right direction – thanks to formidable public support and the strength of our case.

We plan more meetings with, amongst others, Highways England, councillors, MPs and developers, biodiversity experts, plus our own planning/traffic consultants. Moreover, for the first time, we will be engaging specialist planning lawyers. We will also be holding more public meetings and other community events.

The council is due to publish its Local Plan in May. Before that, we continue to appeal for support and, in particular, for funds to pay for the advisers who are critical to our success. The developers employ lawyers and professional consultants to press their case – and we must do the same. Put bluntly, unless more people put their hands in their pockets, we will be outgunned. All donations count. Please give as much as you can.

To donate or offer other help, please visit: or email: [email protected].


Thank you for your support. Together we will succeed!


TV naturalist Chris Packham brands EBC housing plans “piece of eco-vandalism”

Daily Echo, 28 March 2017: TV NATURALIST Chris Packham has branded plans for housing in Hampshire as a “piece of eco-vandalism”. Mr Packham has voiced his fears over the future of wildlife in Eastleigh in light of plans for homes and a new road in Fair Oak and Bishopstoke. The plans are known as options B and C in the borough’s Local Plan and propose building houses near ancient woodland such as Stoke Park Woods, Upper Barn and Crowdhill Copse woods. The presenter of BBC’s Springwatch has now backed ADD’s campaign, saying: “It is desperately important that people get behind the campaign to prevent this piece of eco-vandalism. The council is guilty of shabby politics. The plans are bad for wildlife and bad for humans.”


Threat to Stoke Park Woods: Can the Lib Dem ‘Focus’ newsletter be believed anymore?

ADD UPDATE, 16 March 2017: Action against Destructive Development is fiercely politically neutral. We may nonetheless speak out if a politician makes a statement that seriously misleads the public – regardless of which party they represent. Such is the case with the latest Lib Dem ‘Focus’ newsletter in Bishopstoke.

The March ‘Focus’ assures residents that options B and C, namely plans to build thousands of houses and a road between three stretches of valuable ancient woodland known collectively as Stoke Park Woods, will not damage the woodland, which is much loved and well used by residents. Focus accuses people who say otherwise of “irresponsible scaremongering”. However, the newsletter makes no mention of a warning from the Woodland Trust (which exists to protect woodland) that the plans, should they go ahead, would be “hugely damaging” to the woods. The two statements cannot both be right.

To help the editor of Focus, Mike Thornton (the former MP for Eastleigh), clarify matters we have asked him three simple questions. 1) Was he aware of the Trust’s warning when the Focus newsletter was published? 2) What contact has he had with the Trust? 3) What is his evidence for the assertion that the plans would cause no damage to the ancient woodland?

We will, of course, let readers know when we get a response. In the meantime, we publish below the Woodland Trust view and the Focus view (for the full version click here), so that people can make up their own minds who to believe.

The Woodland Trust view

Oliver Newham, the Woodland Trust’s senior campaigner for ancient woodland, says options B and C, should they be chosen, would be “hugely damaging”, adding:

“The Woodland Trust is extremely concerned about proposals that could see thousands of houses built close to areas of ancient woodland near Bishopstoke. Ancient woods are hundreds of years old and act as havens for wildlife. They are very sensitive to change, each one unique and irreplaceable. Ancient woods need properly protecting from the impacts of development. Any road between these woods would sever important wildlife corridors and further isolate the woodlands from each other. The woods would also be exposed to increased noise, light and other damaging impacts. We would urge those that love woodlands, particularly those with local experience of these woodlands, to do (and carry on doing) everything they can to convince decision-makers that these woods need protecting, not polluting.”

The Lib Dem Focus view

“Irresponsible scare-mongering that Stoke Park Woods could be threatened by any future development is simply NOT true. So says campaigner Mike Thornton, after the Council also made clear the Woods would be impacted by any northern by-pass taking traffic away from Fair Oak and Bishopstoke.* The woods are owned and managed by Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust… Our woodlands are safe, says Mike.”

* Several Lib Dem Eastleigh borough councillors, including Keith House (the council leader), Vickieye Parkinson-McLachlan, Trevor Mignot and Derek Petty all gave such assurances at EBC’s last full council meeting in December.


MEP Keith Taylor urges rethink of Eastleigh housing plans in options B and C

Hampshire Chronicle, 7 March 2017: EASTLEIGH council has come under fire from a member of the European Parliament for plans to build more than 6,000 homes near Winchester. MEP Keith Taylor said he wants council chiefs to reconsider its plans for homes and a new road in Fair Oak and Bishopstoke, known as options B and C in the borough’s Local Plan. A draft plan is due to be published this Spring. Mr Taylor said the development could impact the River Itchen and that failing to look after the river, which as a Special Area of Conservation has the highest possible protection in EU law, could mean the UK facing charges in the EU’s Court of Justice.  A spokesperson for Eastleigh council declined to comment.


Petition: Give communities back the right to decide where houses are built

ADD UPDATE, 9 February 2017: Given the extent to which Eastleigh Borough Council is ignoring the views of local residents with regard to its Local Plan deliberations, we are urging all our supporters to sign a new UK Government and Parliament petition calling for communities to be given back “the right to decide where houses are built”.  The release this week of the government’s housing white paper means the time is ripe for applying such pressure!

In particular, the petition “calls for a parliamentary debate on government Housing and Planning policy over building on greenfield land and seeks community right of appeal on planning decisions and the removal of the presumption in favour of sustainable development.”

It goes on: “Too many communities are now forced to accept large housing developments seeing the irreversible loss of valuable greenfields without the right of appeal. The failure of government planning policy has resulted in the loss of valued countryside and agricultural land and leaves communities forced to grow too fast without appropriate infrastructure.  Major changes to planning legislation are required to protect established communities across the UK and deliver the right housing in the right places.”

Hear, hear!  At the time of writing, 17,335 people have signed this petition. Let’s add to these numbers.

To sign the petition, please click here.


ITV coverage of 15 Dec Eastleigh council meeting on Local Plan

ADD UPDATE, 19 December 2016: In advance of last Thursday’s Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) meeting on its emerging Local Plan, ITV Meridian ran a news bulletin on the proposals to build 6,000+ houses and a major new road in Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (so-called options B and C). With thanks to Rob Byrne, click ‘More’ below to see a recording of the report. Compelling viewing!


BBC coverage of 15 Dec Eastleigh council meeting on Local Plan

ADD UPDATE, 19 December 2016: In advance of last Thursday’s Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) meeting on its emerging Local Plan, BBC South Today ran a news bulletin on opposition to the proposals to build 6,000+ houses and a major new road in Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (so-called options B and C).  With thanks to Rob Byrne, click ‘More’ below to see a recording of the report. Compulsive viewing!


Eastleigh council faces local and national spotlight as Local Plan decision looms

ADD UPDATE, 19 December 2016: In front of several hundred passionate local residents, Eastleigh’s Liberal Democrat-controlled council last Thursday voted to keep all its options for its emerging Local Plan on the table with the caveat that future research efforts would be focused on the extent to which obstacles to the proposals in Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak (so-called options B and C) are surmountable.  Opposition to these options was clearly articulated by local residents, in set piece speeches, through a show of hands, and by dint of boisterous clapping in support of arguments against them.

Given the magnitude of the obstacles facing options B and C – on financial, technical and environmental grounds – there was widespread disappointment that the council didn’t vote to give alternative proposals in Allington Lane the same level of scrutiny in the next phase of its research.  But, given the electoral imperative for Liberal Democrats to be cautious about these proposals, there was resigned acceptance of this political manoeuvring so long as all options remained on the table.

This tolerance was however severely tested the following morning when Keith House, the council’s wily leader for 22 years, manoeuvred too far by giving the impression in a carefully worded statement that the Allington Lane proposals had effectively been dropped due to the lack of “apparent highway solutions”.  On the back of this statement, the Daily Echo published an article under the headline “Eastleigh council agree local plan to build 6,000 homes on land north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak”, which was clearly a gross misinterpretation of what was actually agreed at the meeting.

For the many thousands of local residents whose lives will be significantly affected by these momentous planning decisions, these distortions of the truth – whether intentional or not – must stop.  Too much is at stake.  For trust in Eastleigh’s democracy to be maintained, residents must believe that their councillors, whatever their political hue, will act in good faith – and, post last Thursday’s meeting, that means taking planning decisions on the basis of the evidence – and nothing else.  Until professional studies have satisfactorily addressed the multitude of concerns into the suitability and deliverability of the options available, nothing can happen.

In a council so tightly controlled by House, it is interesting that two Liberal Democrat councillors, Vickieye Parkinson-MacLachlan (Bishopstoke West) and Paul Bicknell (Eastleigh South), appear to have found events concerning enough to want to put the record straight.

Writing on Facebook on Friday, Vickieye Parkinson-MacLachlan said: “Last night’s meeting wasn’t to select ANY land in or out of the emerging Local Plan Process… We were asked to “Note” the work done by the officers [of the council] in assessing ALL sites and to green light them to keep evaluating ALL sites.  The meeting in the spring will be the one to decide which options we carry forward for development consultation, as just about every councillor said last night – ‘we’ve all got concerns about most of the sites… I think we need lots more information, lots more data before the spring.’”

Also on Facebook, Paul Bicknell said: “I too am baffled at the Echo’s reporting as there was a no decision of a ‘Controversial site picked for 6,000 new homes’.  As I said at the meeting and wish again to settle any confusion here, the decision was to set a direction of travel towards the point where a decision can be made which, as Vickie has said, will be next year. I made it very clear last night that the purpose was not to eliminate anything but to follow Government process in coming up with a local plan.  There is a long way to go and much evidence, as a local plan is judged by the Inspector on evidence, to be obtained before any such decision can be made.”

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.  Perverse incentives cannot, and must not, be allowed to stand in the way of reason.  Growing awareness of this issue, both locally and nationally, means the spotlight will be shining brightly on Eastleigh’s councillors in 2017.


Three Hampshire MPs stress concerns over EBC’s options B and C

Three Hampshire MPs have written an open letter to Eastleigh Borough Council asking it to halt “the unstoppable march” towards 7,200 new homes in Bishopstoke.  Eastleigh MP Mims Davies, Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery and Winchester & Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine have all expressed concerns the council wants the so-called options B and C as its preferred way forward for mass development in the borough.  All three politicians want to see the council look towards solving traffic and infrastructure issues before committing to any solution.  They also say the council, and its leader Keith House, are going against the wishes of residents and doing so without proper consultation.



Mims Davies MP blasts EBC’s options B and C at 17 Oct Public Meeting

At the Bishopstoke Public Meeting on 17 October 2016, Mims Davies, MP for Eastleigh, asked for a statement to be read out expressing her wish that Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) “get on with producing a Local Plan that represents the best deal for this area.”  She said she believes EBC needs to choose the “right” Local Plan and that she “completely opposes options B and C.”  She added that she stands alongside Action against Destructive Development (ADD) to get options B and C thrown out. 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.