Controversial Bedhampton homes plan approved

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Cllr Hannah Hockaday

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AFTER five years of vigorous opposition the campaign against a new estate has finally reached the end of the road.

Last night, following a four-hour meeting, Havant Borough Council gave the go-ahead to 92 new homes at Scratchface Lane, alongside the A3M, in Bedhampton.

The plans, by Crayfern Homes, had been through two previous planning meetings and a public hearing led by the government’s planning inspector.

But the majority of members at the full council meeting felt they could no longer put off the inevitable – that the development would be approved at some stage and if they did not do it now they would incur heavy costs.

Jim Graham, of Brooklands Road, which would be the access point to the site, led the campaign against the development.

He said: ‘This has been going on for five years now. All I can hope is that the borough does not live to regret this decision.’

Last night’s meeting was highly unusual. It was the first time the full council had been called upon to share the burden of responsibility of debating the application.

Councillors admitted they felt their hands were tied by the planning inspector who, in February, had found the application sound, and dismissed the developer’s appeal against the council’s previous rejection only on technical grounds.

At the previous planning meeting, in October, members of the committee had been warned by Chris Murray, the council’s head of planning, they would face large costs if they rejected the application again, in light of the inspector’s ruling that noise from the motorway was not grounds to refuse development.

Costs were estimated at £60,000.

Councillor Mike Fairhurst said: ‘I’m exceedingly angry. I would reject this but I can’t. I’m up for a fight as much as the next man. I don’t like being dictated to by some bloke in Bristol (the planning inspector).

‘But I have a head as well as a heart and I ask myself what will happen if I reject this? The application will go to appeal, that’s a certainty. It’s not like we will pay the fine and not get the houses. We will get the houses anyway. In a word, we’re stuffed.’

Of the 30 councillors present 20 voted for it, and 10 voted against.