Fareham’s Tory leader encourages village society to discuss new town

Sean Woodward. Picture: Rob Dunning - Solent Studios
Sean Woodward. Picture: Rob Dunning - Solent Studios

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MEET now before it’s too late – that’s the plea to campaigners from a council leader behind a new 6,000-home town. Fareham council leader Sean Woodward has urged Funtley Village Society to sit down with him before plans for a new town north of Fareham are looked at by an independent inspector.

The plan for new town, Welborne, was yesterday sent to the inspector, who will examine it.

Cllr Woodward said even though it has been submitted he still wants to meet the society before work starts.

He said: ‘My door is always open and always has been. We need to be getting the best for our existing communities and for the new community too.’

The society has been vocal in its opposition.

Cllr Woodward said Funtley should follow the examples of nearby Knowle and Wickham, which have drawn up ‘shopping lists’ of what they would like to see if the town is built.

He added that as Funtley had been unrepresented on the Welborne Standing Conference – a forum of 35 different groups – for the first few years of preparation, it had not had much input into the plans, and said the more the plan progresses, the harder it will be to make amendments.

The society met last week to discuss the offer, but has refused to meet Cllr Woodward until the inspector has made a decision.

Society chairman Ed Morell said: ‘The idea of a shopping list is not relevant until we know if Welborne has been approved or not.’

He said the society remained firmly against the town and they did not want to meet Cllr Woodward as it could be seen as acceptance.

He said the society had been clear in what it wants in its letters of objection.

Cllr Woodward caused upset when he said that 82 per cent of the 610 objection letters had used the same template from Funtley Village Society and they may not carry as much weight as individual letters with the inspector.

This upset the society, who had put together the letters to help residents object.

Cllr Woodward said he was still keen to meet the society to go through the plans.

He said: ‘I’ve held four public meetings in Funtley and for nine years I have been making this point.

‘The principle of Welborne is established and we need to make the best of it.’