‘Everything within our power has been done to get Welborne right’

A protest was held against the Welborne development at Fareham Civic Offices
A protest was held against the Welborne development at Fareham Civic Offices
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan at the Scrap The Cap rally, held in Guildhall Square

Hundreds turn out for Scrap The Cap rally

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EVERYTHING has been done to ensure plans for a new town have been done right, Fareham’s leader has said as a government inquiry into the Welborne proposal concluded.

Speaking to The News after a six-day long independent inquiry, Councillor Sean Woodward, the leader of Fareham Borough Council, said the authority has done everything in its power to ensure the proposal is good for residents.

15/10/14  ''Welborne development protest at Fareham Civic Offices. Inspector David Hogger introduces himself to the concerned residents holding a yellow folder.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142958-9) PPP-141015-155226001

15/10/14 ''Welborne development protest at Fareham Civic Offices. Inspector David Hogger introduces himself to the concerned residents holding a yellow folder.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142958-9) PPP-141015-155226001

He said: ‘This project is one of the biggest challenges that Fareham has faced in decades.

‘It is vital that if it goes ahead, we have done everything in our power to make sure we get it right.

‘We owe that to all the residents of the whole borough.’

Many community groups voiced their concerns about the town, which is proposed for fields north of Fareham, during the inquiry, held by independent inspector David Hogger.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘I am really pleased that resident groups, individuals and other pressure groups took the opportunity to present evidence and make statements to the independent government inspector at his examination.

‘The plan for a scheme as complex as this needs the independent view that the inspector brings and it is important that everyone’s voice was heard by him.’

Councillors John and Pam Bryant, who represent Fareham North, the ward closest to the proposed town, also voiced their concerns at the inquiry.

Cllr Woodward praised the Bryants, both Conservative councillors, for standing up for their residents.

He said that while Welborne remained a Conservative policy as the party believes it solves Fareham’s housing needs, the Bryants were free to go against the policy in the interests of their residents.

The Bryants were the only two councillors to speak at the inquiry, plus a written objection from Lib Dem Cllr Katrina Trott was taken into consideration as she could not make the inquiry dates.

Cllr Pam Bryant said: ‘John and I went along as councillors as it affects all the residents of north Fareham.

‘We felt it was our duty to represent our residents.’

The inquiry finished on Thursday, with Mr Hogger praising the council for its the way it handled scores of protestors who demonstrated outside the Civic Offices on the first day of the inquiry.

He also said that he appreciated residents’ groups, pressure groups and members of the public who had attended to participate or watch.

Mr Hogger made a number of requests for the council to work on, to provide extra pieces of work or reassurance as part of the process.

Mr Hogger is expected to decide whether the plan is sound next year.

What happened at the inquiry and what is next

WELBORNE is a 6,000-home town planned for fields north of Fareham.

Independent inspector David Hogger spent six days scrutinising the plan and he will make a decision on whether it is sound or not early next year.

Throughout the inquiry he looked at:

- Day one - The duty to co-operate, legal requirements, the core strategy and planning documents, as well as the vision, objectives and development principles

- Day two - Site, setting, allocations, design and character areas, as well as economy and self-containment

- Day three - District centre, local centre and community hub; education, community and health facilities

- Day four - Transport, access and movement; green infrastructure, biodiversity and landscape

- Day five - Energy, water and waste; homes and affordable housing

- Day six - Delivering the community including viability, monitoring and review

Once Fareham Borough Council has completed extra work given to it by Mr Hogger, it will be published for a two week consultation. Mr Hogger will then read written representations from participants. If he concludes that modifications need to be made, elected members of the council will consider the modifications, before putting them out to a further six-week consultation.

Then he will decide if another hearing is required, before making a decision.