Controversial plan is under review by the government

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A SHOCK breakthrough has come in the battle to stop a village disappearing under urban sprawl.

The government has stepped in at the eleventh hour to review plans by Bargate Homes to build 40 homes on a field off Lovedean Lane.

Residents believed the fate of Lovedean was sealed after East Hampshire District Council’s planning committee went against overwhelming public opinion to approve the application.

They feared it would open the floodgates to more development on fields along Lovedean Lane.

But the Secretary of State has written a letter to the council, stating that planning permission must not be granted ‘without specific authorisation’.

The government may now call in the application to be scrutinised further.

Horndean Councillor Guy Shepherd said: ‘It’s a very unusual set of circumstances.

‘Talking to the planning officers and some of the long-term senior councillors, it’s unheard of.’

Lovedean Cllr Sara Schillemore said: ‘It will be interesting to see what happens. I think it’s a positive move.’

The government’s intervention comes as East Hampshire’s leader, Ferris Cowper, has promised to provide an extra £200,000 to improve the planning committee, including providing more training.

Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery said he did not believe Lovedean was a sustainable location as there are no shops, no public transport and there is the threat of flooding.

He said: ‘Actually defining sustainable development is extremely difficult. Ferris Cowper has put in place some excellent changes at East Hampshire to help the planning committee get their heads around what sustainable development is.

‘One of the great worries they have is if they turn down applications they leave themselves open to appeal. There’s quite a lot of case law now where councils have turned down developments on the basis it is not sustainable.’

A planning summit is being planned for the autumn to explain to all parties about what sustainable development is.

Resident Steve Anderson, of Lovedean Lane, said: ‘Maybe sense will prevail to stop this misinterpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework that allows landowners and developers from overriding the wishes of local residents.’