ADD was established in early 2016 when three local residents’ groups joined forces, all concerned about the emerging Local Plan in Eastleigh. Although nominally out to consultation, it was soon clear that Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) had already settled on two highly destructive options for meeting government housing targets.

The villages of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke were to be engulfed in an enormous, 5,500-home urban sprawl. It would have destroyed the most attractive and eco-diverse countryside in the borough and caused irreversible damage to the River Itchen. The environmental campaigner Chris Packham, who had grown up locally, described it as “eco-vandalism”.

The plan had been drawn up by developers, who were forecast to make a £250 million profit. At the same time, there was no mention of providing much needed social housing or starter homes for first-time buyers. A classic case of the wrong houses in the wrong places.

Had the plan gone ahead, the impact would have been felt well beyond the borders of Eastleigh. The disruption and extra traffic would have damaged the environment and quality of life for people far and wide – in Colden Common, Twyford, Upham, Owslebury, Allbrook and Otterbourne, to name just a few. The impact on the South Downs National Park would have been considerable. A major new road would have disrupted and degraded two sizeable pieces of ancient woodland (see image above), and the location of the new developments on the outskirts of town would have maximised car use and CO2 emissions.

It took a while for the implications to sink in but, when they did, support for ADD was immense. Hundreds of volunteers offered to help. Thanks to donations from the public, supplemented by financial contributions from several parish councils, we were able to make a powerful case to the planning inquiry, which started towards the end of 2019.

On 6 April 2020, we and our supporters were delighted to learn that the government’s planning inspector, Christa Masters, had ditched the plan. She ordered EBC to delete ‘Options B and C’ (the 5,500 house-development proposed for Fair Oak and Bishopstoke), together with the planned link road. We had achieved all our aims.

But that is not the end of our story.

We cannot rest. The council is now considering a new Local Plan, due to come into force in 2029. Experience tells us that residents will continue to need a voice to represent their views. So please stay in touch – we will keep you informed as events unfold.