Changes to plan for new town go before councillors

An artist's impression of Welborne
An artist's impression of Welborne
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CHANGES to a plan to build a new 6,000-home town on fields north of Fareham are to debated at a special council meeting.

Fareham councillors will talk about 23 changes which have been requested by an independent inspector who is deciding whether the town can be built.

Community groups remain hopeful that the changes will prove too much for Fareham Borough Council to meet and will eventually lead to the plan for the town, called Welborne, being scrapped.

Independent inspector David Hogger held an eight-day inquiry into the plan in October, where he heard from the council, developers, landowners and community groups.

Following the inquiry, he drew up a list of 23 changes, called major modifications, that he wants to see made before he can find the plan ‘sound’ and allow it to continue.

Executive member for planning and development, Keith Evans, said Wednesday’s meeting would see the changes discussed and agreed upon, before they are then sent out for a six-week consultation, and then finally to the inspector.

Cllr Evans said the changes, which include adjustments to buffer zones, traffic issues, noise and light pollution, were expected.

He said: ‘It is clarification rather than major changes. It is more detail than we have ever seen before.’

He added: ‘It will be a further clarification of how we deal with shortfalls. It could be a lengthy meeting but we will go through the changes section by section.’

Opposers remain hopeful the inspector will take on board their view.

Michael Carter, from the Wickham Society, said he hoped the councillors would discuss each of the points thoroughly before signing off any changes.

He also raised concerns about the substance and quality of the proposed changes.

Mr Carter said: ‘It seems to me that somebody should have said at one point “are these plans realistic?”.

‘I’m not convinced the modifications to the Welborne plan have actually done that. It seems they have just changed the words and not the substance.’

Shaun Cunningham, a Portchester resident and Welborne opponent, will speak at the meeting.

He said: ‘I am disappointed as the council has known the views of community groups and individuals like myself from the beginning and it has not listened.’

The meeting, open to the public, will take place at 6pm tomorrow at the Civic Offices, in Fareham.