FAREHAM Borough Council has admitted that a planned new town of 7,000 homes is to help meet the housing needs of the entire south Hampshire area – and not just the borough.
At the start of a two-week inquiry yesterday, government inspector Michael Hetherington questioned Fareham Borough Council over its reasons for the development.
He wanted the council to clarify whether proposals for the new homes north of the M27 were aimed at meeting its housing problems or those of a wider area. Mr Hetherington said a special edition of the council’s newsletter appeared to contradict its reasons behind the ‘Strategic Development Area’.
He said: ‘I need absolute clarity on this point. Is the purpose of the Strategic Development Area to meet more than the borough’s housing need?’
Linda Jewell, Fareham Borough Council’s head of strategic planning and design, replied: ‘The level of accommodation that is being proposed will mean it is there to meet a sub-regional need but also a Fareham need at the same time.
‘It is part of an overall strategy for the south Hampshire area.
‘We can’t just pull up the drawbridge and say we can only deal with Fareham’s needs. We have to look at the region.’
The development north of Fareham, which will take place mainly on countryside land, was first proposed as part of a regional plan created in 2006.
This identified the need for 80,000 new homes in south Hampshire by 2026. But since then the government has scrapped all local plans.
The inquiry heard how one resident collected more than 1,000 signatures against the development and sent them to the inspector.
Nick Chappelle, of Burnham Wood, Fareham, told the inquiry: ‘Is there a need for such a town comprising 7,000 homes? Without a doubt the answer is no. People don’t want this and it is being forced on them. I am very disappointed as are many Fareham residents.’
Fareham East councillor Paul Whittle said he had concerns about the proposals, telling The News: ‘It is interesting that Fareham council has presented the logic for the SDA as meeting the needs for housing and employment for the sub-region of south Hampshire. The council has tried to sell the idea to the residents of Fareham as meeting the demand for affordable housing in the town. During the public examination the council has said the planned SDA is where people with a need for affordable housing will live. This area is still not properly defined, being only loosely drawn on maps of current green fields.
‘This is shocking for the people of Fareham that the proposals keep changing and are very shaky and uncertain. This is no way to plan for the future of our town.’
Caroline Dibden, of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, which is leading the protest, said: ‘Today’s inquiry was hugely important but whatever the outcome we will continue to fight.
‘The inspector asked some very incisive questions. We have already submitted a lot of written arguments so today wasn’t about re-hashing those. But what was really important about today is that we heard the SDA is not for Fareham’s needs but it is for the region’s needs – whatever they have been telling the electorate.’
THE investigation will span another four days over the next two weeks.
The inquiry is looking at the Fareham Core Strategy which includes a number of major developments in the town.
Today, the planning inspector will examine other proposals for housing in the borough.
On Thursday, the council will answer questions on proposals for new areas of employment and plans for Fareham’s town centre.
Next week, the strategy’s allowances for environment and climate change will be scrutinised along with a detailed session on the town’s housing needs.
The final day will look at Fareham’s transport and infrastructure.