Council says new town is needed to prevent infilling

Councillor Luke Stubbs

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THE decision to build a new town north of Fareham has been defended by the council after it came under criticism from local community groups.

Groups, such as the Hampshire Campaign for Rural England, labelled it ‘the town that nobody wants.’

Fareham Borough Council said the new town is needed to meet Fareham’s growing housing needs and to prevent infilling within the borough.

To back this claim up, the council has released a map showing what Fareham would look like if the town, Welborne, is not built.

Leader of the council Cllr Sean Woodward said: ‘If Welborne does not go ahead then Fareham would be concrete from Portchester to Swanwick. All of the green fields would be gone.

‘Many of them are in the hands of developers already, only last week a developer contacted me about land between Stubbington and Fareham. Developers have made many attempts to buy that land but it is a part of Fareham’s vital strategic gap, so it would be disastrous if we were to lose it.’

The council has been criticised for using the housing waiting list number of 2,500 people to validate the need for the new town. The amount of households (single and family units) on the waiting list, as of yesterday, is 1,314.

Cllr Woodward said the reason for the difference in numbers is due to changes to the eligibility criteria, which came about in April, meaning some who want a house no longer qualify. Survey work by consultant’s DTZ has estimated that Fareham will need 2,900 houses by 2026.

Chair of the Welborne Standing Conference, Henry Cleary, praised the council’s forward thinking.

He said: ‘Every local authority has to allocate land for the future housing needs and this is difficult to do in a place where development already uses up quite a lot of the land. They have to decide whether to fill in the remaining gaps or do something bigger and build on green land. That is a very real choice.

‘It is not for me to say which is right, the council has to take a decision on what is best for their area. ‘If they refused to take a decision, developers would take their appeals to the Secretary of State and the council would have very little influence on where development was allowed. Fareham deserve to be applauded for facing up to the decision.’

Final plans for the town will go to an independent inspector at the end of this year.