Judgement day over new town as inquiry gets down to work

Aerial map of where 7,000 homes are set to be built
Aerial map of where 7,000 homes are set to be built

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CAMPAIGNERS are today calling on a government inspector to throw out plans for up to 7,000 new homes in Fareham.

A two-week inquiry begins today which will decide the future of the planned new town north of the M27, near Knowle Village.

Those against the development – which will take place mainly on open countryside – say the number of proposed new homes far exceeds what is needed.

They say only 2,000 new homes are required for the borough over the next 20 years.

An alliance which includes the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), the Fareham Society, Wickham Parish Council and Funtley Residents’ Association have joined together to fight the plans.

Caroline Dibden, of the CPRE, who is expected to speak at the inquiry today, said: ‘Fareham’s own need is nothing like 7,000 houses. Hampshire County Council’s figures show it should be about 2,000 over a 20-year period.

‘For that many houses it’s going to mean a huge increase in the number of people. Fareham’s figures make it 24,000 people – it would represent a growth of more than 20 per cent in the population of Fareham.

‘These houses would not be satisfying a local need, they would be for people coming from outside Fareham, if not outside Hampshire altogether.’

The north Fareham development was initially mooted as part of the South East Plan, created in 2006, which identified the need for 80,000 new homes in south Hampshire by 2026.

Neighbouring Eastleigh Borough Council ditched plans for its own equivalent 6,000-house development last year as soon as it was announced the South East Plan was to be axed by the government.

But Fareham refused to follow suit, with senior councillors claiming that just because the plan wasn’t there, it didn’t also remove the need for the homes.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the council, says Fareham’s growing need for social housing means the plans should stay.

He said: ‘We have a housing waiting list, which grows by the day, of more than 2,000 families in Fareham. We could build on every countryside gap and join up the town to all of its villages but the infrastructure is not there.

‘The six or seven thousand homes will provide a couple of thousand affordable homes for social housing and the rest will be private housing.

‘Our children have a right to buy a house in the borough where they grew up. Not a brick will be laid until all of the infrastructure and funding that is required is there.’

The council has claimed that if the new town is rejected it will be powerless to stop developers cramming in dozens of new houses in small gaps around the borough.

The public inquiry is expected to hear from more than 20 witnesses on the subject of the new town.

Inspector Michael Hetherington will spend two weeks examining the Fareham Core Strategy.

Plans for up to 7,000 new homes are just one part of the strategy.

It also includes plans for the Daedalus site at Lee-on-the-Solent and Coldeast at Sarisbury Green.