COUNCILLORS voted unanimously to press on with the Local Plan last night after hearing a series of impassioned speeches from community groups.
The document’s proposals for 10,231 new homes across the borough will now be scrutinised at a six-week public consultation starting at 5pm on Monday, February 4.
Thanks to the hundreds of residents who packed into the Public Service Plaza the evening was not without drama, particularly when contentious planning sites were debated.
One was land north of Long Copse Lane, in Emsworth – as revellers in the public gallery bellowed a chant of ‘shame’ as a motion to remove it from the Local Plan was rejected.
Emsworth councillor Richard Kennett put forward the motion and, despite it being voted down by his peers, is confident what he calls a 260-home ‘tragedy’ can still be avoided.
‘It was not the result I would’ve liked tonight but we had a 17-12 defeat which could’ve been worse,’ he said.
‘The fight goes on, Emsworth’s residents are not going away and we are not giving up on this.
‘I still genuinely believe that we can make the case to the inspector that this is not an appropriate place to site 260 homes.’
Among 13 others who gave deputations, Ron Tate told councillors of the fears he and more than 1,700 petitioners have amid plans to build 50 homes off Lower Road in Bedhampton.
His rallying call to spare the site was also rejected – but he among others is expected to raise concerns about access, safety, biodiversity and heritage at consultation next month.
‘The acid test is, does the development produce more benefits than the harm it creates? Our judgement is no it does not,’ he said.
‘We’ll now forensically look at what the plan says, where we think it’s not sound and we’ll be making those representations to the inspector.’
After Hayling Island was last week earmarked to receive almost double the quota of new homes it was in the Draft Local Plan in 2017, others made their stance clear last night.
Save Our Island chairman Dave Parham branded the Local Plan passed by councillors ‘limited in scope’, with deeply-held capacity concerns for the A3023 if homes are built.
However, the council had a follow-up message for residents from all corners of the borough – we ‘desperately need houses’.
After all her councillors backed to move forward with the Local Plan,cabinet lead for communities, development and housing, Leah Turner, said: ‘I’m extremely pleased this evening was so productive and so assertive.
‘This is just the first step and we’d like residents to be involved and give their opinions all the way through the process.’
Public consultation on the Local Plan will end on Monday, March 18 and the document will then be submitted to government with a view to being adopted in 2020.