Fareham council leader warns green spaces are at risk without a plan

An artist's impression of proposed new 6,000-home town Welborne
An artist's impression of proposed new 6,000-home town Welborne
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GREEN spaces are at risk of being built on unless a council’s development plan is found sound, a council leader has warned.

A meeting was held at Fareham Borough Council last night to agree on 34 changes to Fareham’s development sites and policies plan.

These changes were recommended by independent inspector David Hogger after a planning inquiry last November.

Last night Cllr Woodward said: ‘Most residents believe that we have fought to protect them but I have always said that most of the green spaces in Fareham are in the hands of developers who have tried desperately to get the inspector to accept them.’

Cllr Woodward said the development plan was needed to meet Fareham’s affordable housing targets.

The plan does not include the proposed new 6,000-home town Welborne, which was subject to a separate planning inquiry last year and has attracted many objections.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘The mean house price in Fareham is £237,000 and the mean income is £28,000 which gives a ratio of house price to income as 8.4 meaning that someone would need to have an income of £54,000 to afford to buy a house in Fareham.

‘We therefore still have a desperate need for affordable housing in our town which has the highest level of owner-occupancy in this country.’

Councillors considered changes to the plan recommended by council officers and voted for the changes to go ahead.

Some councillors raised points to change, including Fareham North West ward councillor Peter Davies who was concerned about a proposed exception that would allow small affordable housing developments in the countryside if no other option was available.

He wanted to add a caveat that prevented developers using it to argue a precedent – but this was not included.

He said: ‘I have been on the planning committee since before the invention of the wheel and I know that developers will seize any opportunity they can get so I urge the council to think carefully.’

Opposition leader Paul Whittle also raised many points and questioned whether the council was proposing too many affordable houses, if Welborne was to proceed.

He also questioned whether the council had a fall-back if the inspector was to find both plans unsound.

He said: ‘If it is found unsound, what is the contingency plan? What is the fall-back? Or are we going to have planning mayhem across the borough?’

Only minor changes to the wording were made and all 34 changes will now go out for a six-week public consultation.

These changes include issues such as occupancy months at Solent Breezes holiday park, rules banning building in the Portchester district centre, updates to roads such as Newgate Lane and the Stubbington bypass, and other topics.