‘When is it going to end?’ – fury over East Hampshire homes plan

UNSPOILT The South Downs National Park

UNSPOILT The South Downs National Park

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A ROW is brewing between parish councils and a national park authority amid concerns three villages could eventually be swallowed up by urban sprawl.

People in Rowlands Castle, Horndean and Clanfield are concerned their villages are being forced to take the lion’s share of new homes in east Hampshire – with less development within the South Downs National Park and north of Butser villages such as Grayshott.

As reported, 1,190 homes are set to be allocated to Horndean over the next 15 years, with 521 for Clanfield, and 242 for Rowlands Castle.

By comparison the national park – which makes up 57 per cent of East Hampshire – could have as few as 650 homes.

Brian Ahern, chairman of Clanfield Parish Council, told The News: ‘We are saying we have taken our full load. One has to ask “when is it going to end?”.’

Each parish council has submitted a formal response about the Joint Core Strategy – a housing blueprint drawn up by East Hampshire District Council and the National Park Authority.

In its response, Rowlands Castle Parish Council was concerned about ‘the continuing imbalance in housing density between the northern and southern parishes’ and the ‘excessive protection and problematic boundaries of the South Downs National Park’.

Meanwhile, Horndean Parish Council says 700 new homes should be the maximum number for the village.

Its report adds: ‘There are already large populated areas within the park. The stance adopted by South Downs National Park gives more weight to landscape than cultural heritage. Towns such as Petersfield are more sustainable to take additional housing and are better suited to development having good retail, a railway station and good sources of local employment.’

Andrew Shaxson, chairman of the National Park Authority planning committee, stated at a public meeting in July that the authority had a legal duty to protect the beauty of the area – describing it as ‘a different animal to the rest of East Hampshire’.

A statement from the authority added: ‘We have a duty to deliver affordable housing for local people across the South Downs whilst caring for the precious landscapes for which the South Downs were made a national park.’

The statement said the authority agreed that between 650 and 950 new homes should be allocated to the park.

The public comments will now be taken into account as the strategy is examined by a government inspector.

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