Inspector gives backing for town north of Fareham

BIG PLANS The highlighted area shows where the homes could be built

BIG PLANS The highlighted area shows where the homes could be built

The hustings at Portsmouth College - from left:  David Carpenter (college governor), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems), Ian McCulloch (Green), Steve Fitzgerald (college teacher and chair), Stephen Morgan (Labour), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip) and Penny Mordaunt (Cons)   Picture: Heather Eggelton

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PLANS for a controversial new town of up to 7,500 homes north of Fareham have been given the go-ahead.

A government inspector has approved Fareham Borough Council’s growth plans for the next 15 years, which includes the new development on countryside land stretching from Wickham to Wallington.

Michael Hetherington spent two weeks hearing evidence at a public inquiry in May and his main findings have now been made public.

But the verdict has left campaigners against the new development furious.

Brenda Clapperton, of the Fareham Society, said: ‘I think it’s a very bad decision to put that number of houses there.

‘That number will without doubt have an impact on nearby villages like Wallington, Wickham and Knowle.

‘But the devil is in the details and we will be minutely looking at those. They have still got some big issues to iron out.’

Caroline Dibden, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, added: ‘This is very disappointing.

‘It seems to ride roughshod over people’s opinions and the needs of the local population.’

Councillor Sean Woodward, Tory leader of the council, said he was ‘relieved and delighted’ that the town had been given the go-ahead.

‘This puts the council and our residents who we represent, in the driving seat in deciding where future development in the borough will and will not happen,’ he said.

‘Everything is now a matter for Fareham as the planning authority.

‘I accept there are residents who aren’t at all happy, but I still submit that this is the best option.

‘I would say to those who oppose this, if you want to work with us to design this community for the next generation there will be lots of chances to engage and numerous consultation exercises as this develops.’

But the inspector has recommended removing reference to a proposed employment area at junction 11 of the M27.

Mrs Clapperton added: ‘That is good news – we thought that was the most inappropriate area.’

The council will now work on creating a detailed plan for the new community which will look at affordable housing, infrastructure, employment opportunities, and how open spaces will be created and maintained.

Cllr Woodward added: ‘We are keen to continue talking to the residents of Fareham, and those in the nearby communities of Knowle and Wickham about the plans for the new community.’

The council’s ‘core strategy’ plan will now go before the full council to be approved on August 4.

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