Developers and council vie to win housebuilding case

NO-GO The field next to The Navigator Pub in Lower Swanwick which has had an application refused for 37 homes
NO-GO The field next to The Navigator Pub in Lower Swanwick which has had an application refused for 37 homes
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Beachbuggin on Southsea Common. Picture: Allan Hutchings

Organisers of Southsea BeachBuggin’ hope to resurrect event

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WE need to save our green areas and build on brownfield sites.

That’s the message from Fareham Borough Council as an inquiry gets under way into plans for hundreds of homes in the borough.

The council hopes the examination of the plan will back its view and help to force developers to think again over greenfield sites.

Council leader Sean Woodward has said the council is under siege from developers wanting to build on land surrounding the town.

The series of independent hearings, which started yesterday, will look into the council’s Development Sites and Policies Plan to see if its proposed sites for housing in the town are sound.

If inspector David Hogger finds the plans sound, the council will be more able to resist planning applications for greenfield sites.

The inquiry does not cover the council’s plan for Welborne, a 6,000-home new town in the countryside. An separate inquiry into that was held last month.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘Fareham is under siege from developers.

‘Many of our most sensitive areas of countryside, including strategic gaps between our town and our villages, largely south of the M27, are under their control. They are fighting hard to get them allocated for housing.

‘We, in common with other local authorities, are required to make sufficient land available for new housing.

‘The plan is designed to ensure that, in addition to Welborne, development is directed at largely brownfield sites.’

In 2006, it was decided that the council would look to build 3,729 new homes in Fareham in addition to Welborne as part of the South East Plan.

Most have already been built and many more have been given planning permission. But hundreds still need to be built by 2026 and housing contractors want to build these on green gaps.

Resident Shaun Cunningham, who led a campaign against Welborne, said Fareham is over-developed.

He said: ‘I’m not just against Welborne. I’m against Newlands and any other plans for houses in Fareham.

‘I don’t want to see the 6,000 houses proposed for Welborne moved to the south of the town.

‘The council was too quick to sign up to the South East Plan.’

In the first session of the hearing, existing settlements were discussed between the council and developers.

It was argued by landowners that the plan should have included a detailed review of boundaries. They said land considered as countryside in the plan prevents building on it.

But the council said the strategic gaps were to separate towns and villages.

Mr Hogger asked the council for clarification on how the review of the strategic gap boundaries was approached within the plan. He also asked the council to reconsider the detailed wording of the policy which seeks to prevent ‘ransom strips’ from being used to frustrate development.