Campaigners lose fight against new town near Fareham

The plan for Welborne has been approved. Image shows an artist's impression
The plan for Welborne has been approved. Image shows an artist's impression
  • Councillors agree to press on with 6,000-home Welborne
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A FIGHT to stop a new 6,000-home town from being built on green fields faced defeat last night after the town got the go-ahead from councillors.

The plan for Welborne, destined to be built north of Fareham, was voted through by the majority at a meeting at Fareham Borough Council.

The plan had attracted criticism from community groups who were concerned about the loss of countryside and the new town’s proximity to existing communities and the potential impact on infrastructure.

A speech was made at the meeting by Portchester resident and Welborne opposer Shaun Cunningham.

He said: ‘There’s lots of smiling faces here. You have your Welborne, what an injustice.’

His comments were backed by several councillors who also voiced their disapproval.

Lib Dem Katrina Trott said: ‘My vote reflects the view of many others who are aware of the adverse effects that this monstrous development will have on Fareham.’

Cllr Trott said she feared extra traffic, increased air pollution and strained health services and that the plan had been foisted upon residents.

Cllr John Bryant, who represents Fareham North, the ward closest to Welborne, said: ‘If you ask the people of north Fareham, everybody is saying they don’t want it because it is going to make their lives intolerable.’

His wife and fellow ward councillor Pam Bryant, who also represents Fareham North, said: ‘It is an extremely sad day. We have fought long and hard.’

However, many spoke in favour of the town. Executive member for planning Keith Evans said the plan would meet Fareham’s housing needs until 2026. He said extensive work had been done to create the plan since the council agreed a core strategy in 2011.

He said more than 60 documents were submitted to planning inspector David Hogger, who held a five-day inquiry in October and declared the plan sound in May.

Fareham North West councillor Peter Davies said: ‘Not to create Welborne is a planning disaster for the rest of Fareham’s greenfield sites.’

Council leader Sean Woodward reiterated a promise he had made.

He said: ‘Not one brick will be laid before the infrastructure requirements have been properly assessed, costed and funding identified.’

He also said that Welborne will protect the borough’s remaining green spaces, allow the authority to get more grants for road improvements and decrease the council’s housing waiting list. But he admitted that Welborne would cater for more than just Fareham due to the area’s ‘porous borders’.

Four councillors – John and Pamela Bryant, Chris Wood and Katrina Trott – voted against Welborne, and two councillors – Tim Knight and Jack Englefield – abstained. The rest – except Paul Whittle, Nick Gregory, Dennis Steadman and Roger Price who were absent – voted in favour.

The local plan, which says where the council will allow development across the borough, was also unanimously agreed last night.