Entire council will decide the fate of Bedhampton housing estate

ANGRY Protesters against the Scratchface Lane development outside the council before the meeting. Picture: Paul Jacobs (123492-3)
ANGRY Protesters against the Scratchface Lane development outside the council before the meeting. Picture: Paul Jacobs (123492-3)
Sir Vince Cable is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats

Sir Vince Cable is new Liberal Democrats leader

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THERE was shock after councillors voted to defer making a decision on a controversial new estate.

In an unprecedented move, Havant Borough Council’s planning committee voted to make the entire council debate plans to build 92 homes next to the A3M, in Bedhampton.

Last night’s development management committee – which more than 100 people attended – spent two hours debating the proposal for land off Scratchface Lane.

But at the end of it they decided if they were to reject it the financial risk to the council would be so great all 38 members should shoulder the responsibilty.

There was anger at the shock, last-minute move. Jim Graham, a Brooklands Road resident, has led the campaign against the development. He said: ‘It’s a cop-out. Why are they here if they can’t make a decision?

‘I would like to have seen this settled because the majority of the members were against it.’

The committee had previously rejected the application in May 2011 because of the noise levels from the motorway,

Developers Crayfern Homes appealed and it went before a government planning inspector who rejected it again, but only on a technicality. The inspector’s view was the noise levels were acceptable, but he was not happy with the contracts.

On that basis the council’s head of planning, Chris Murray, warned the committee last night if they rejected it again it was almost certain to cost the council hundreds of thousands of pounds because the developers would likely win on appeal.

He said: ‘The inspector has concluded categorically there are no grounds to reject this on noise.’

He went on, ‘The applicant will say your decision is not just unreasonable but it is perverse.’

However, Cllr Richard Brown put forward a motion to reject the plan and was backed by Cllr Leah Turner.

Cllr Elaine Shimbart had already made her views known by declaring: ‘I consider this to be a totally inappropriate site for a large 92-property development.’

Chairman Paul Buckley put forward the proposal to refer it to full council and it was accepted unanimously by the committee. A date has not yet been set.