Outrage over £2m bill for Welborne plan

Planning Welborne has cost over �2m
Planning Welborne has cost over �2m

Beach huts in rate increase

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MORE than £2m has been spent on plans for a new 6,000-home town – before a brick has even been laid.

The cost of planning Welborne, destined for fields north of the M27 in Fareham, was finalised at an executive meeting of Fareham Borough Council.

A report was signed off by council leader Sean Woodward, which said the total cost for developing the plan stood at £2,107,454.

This cost has been labelled ‘outrageous’ by groups opposed to the town, who say they feel their objections have been ignored, despite the price tag.

But Cllr Woodward said the cost was ‘not surprising’ due to the sheer scale of work and said the money had been funded by central government.

He said: ‘The money spent was raised through general taxation but the important thing is that we’ve always 
said there would be no charge to the council tax in Fareham.

‘The sheer size of the bill is down to residents expecting there to be some very significant studies carried out to justify the plan, to show environmentally and ecologically how it will work.

‘People rightly demanded those and such studies are very expensive and so it’s not surprising there is such a cost.’

Campaigner Shaun Cunningham, who runs campaign group Inform Fareham, said the cost was ‘outrageous’.

He said: ‘It is an outrage. If they had spent £2m properly consulting residents then we would not be in this argument now.

‘The public would’ve accepted the plan but instead they feel like they have not been listened to. It is a disgrace.’

Cllr Keith Evans, executive member for planning, said the costs stretched for more than four years and that 10 per cent had been spent on the inspection of the plan, carried out last year by inspector David Hogger.

Cllr Evans said: ‘All of these costs have been funded from grants, not a single penny from council tax.’

The first outline planning application for up to 1,500 homes off Knowle Road plus a school and shops is expected by the end of this year.