RESIDENTS have been given extra backing in their bid to stop hundreds of new homes being built in a congested area of Portsmouth.
Campaigners are already looking to put together a neighbourhood plan giving them control over the level of new development on the east and west plots of St James’ Hospital, in Milton.
But Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt wants them to go one step further and produce a ‘masterplan’ as part of the exercise which would determine what is best for the wider area as well as including nearby Langstone university campus.
She feels this would ensure developers don’t cram in as many homes as possible into specific sites, and will meet hospital landowner NHS Property Services Ltd to see how it can help.
She said: ‘These sites are a rare and precious green lung in the city and their development, as one, would be an opportunity to retain green space and enhance its possibility for community use rather than simply provide more houses.’
She added: ‘If the St James’s sites are developed independently there is a danger that insufficient consideration will be given to the needs of the third site in respect of access and infrastructure.
‘I firmly believe that residents, councillors and officers would see this approach of community-led consideration of all three sites as the best option for development.’
More than 100 Milton residents came together last weekend to voice their opposition against plans to build on the hospital land.
And last night campaigners had their first meeting about how to start devising a neighbourhood plan.
Keep Milton Green campaigner David Jordan said: ‘It’s definitely encouraging we are getting more support.
‘We also want to try and keep the shops by Bransbury Park and the shops down Locksway Road and we feel they should be protected in the plan.
‘For many years, people traversed the grounds at St James, some people involved in the campaign climbed the trees as a kid.’
The push for a neighbourhood plan to be created comes despite scepticism from councillors who believe it does not hold weight in urban areas and is more suited to villages.
Lib Dem members have helped residents produce an independent traffic survey in the hope it will add weight once planning applications for homes are submitted.
Lib Dem councillor Darren Sanders said: ‘A neighbourhood plan is a really good idea.
‘The need to masterplan the whole area has been essential, but the problem has been the Tory administration not coming up with that before now, and that has been very frustrating.’