Digging in its heels is not an option for the council

COMMENT: Time to take responsibility for our own wellbeing

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We all understand that new homes need to be built. There is a housing shortage in this country and that is not in question. But where should they go?

Today we reveal Havant Borough Council’s housebuilding plan for the next 20 years, which would see 5,000 more homes on top of the 6,300 already earmarked.

That amount simply can’t be absorbed without taking big chunks of green space and turning them into building sites.

Not surprisingly, the sheer scale has shocked people who can see a future where space between conurbations no longer exists and the infrastructure is overwhelmed by an influx of more and more residents who will all need and use local services.

This is not just Nimbyism. It goes much deeper than that.

We fully understand the concerns of those who foresee one continuous development running from the Sussex border as far as Southampton, with loss of farm fields and the precious green gaps that are so important to our landscapes and help communities to retain their identity.

But as the borough’s planning head Andy Biltcliffe says, the reality is that the council is being forced into developing a new housing blueprint because of government pressure.

It could attempt a King Canute and try to hold back development. But speculative developers would still put in planning applications that would be difficult to refuse and there would be a much more piecemeal approach.

Better to have a plan to work towards, where the council has more control over what goes where.

We just hope it can find some sites that mean precious green gaps can be preserved. But simply digging in its heels is not an option.