PLANNING chiefs are being forced to consider doubling the number of homes allocated to greenfield sites in Fareham in a bid to meet new government targets.
Borough council leader Councillor Sean Woodward warned a new target of 544 homes a year will have to be built from now to 2026, up from 420 a year, leaves little choice but to look at the sites.
He told The News government wants more homes to be built in expensive areas in a bid to drive down house prices, making them more affordable.
But the veteran politician rubbished the idea, and said private developers have warned him they will ‘cherry pick’ the best sites and will not build more – which will not see prices fall.
Now Cllr Woodward wants to meet with housing minister James Brokenshire in a bid to persuade him to reverse the plans. The councillor said the council had already been forced to allocate 2,000 homes in greenfield sites.
He said: ‘I’m talking with two borough MPs, Caroline Dinenage and Suella Braverman and they’re attempting to organise a meeting with James Brokenshire, the secretary of state , so we can urgently try and reverse this, which has the potential to wipe out a strategic countryside gap.
‘Essentially it means the draft plan we consulted on and got 3,000 responses on, we’ve got to almost start again with the housing chapter.’
It comes as government issued a new National Planning Policy Framework last week.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘It appears that Fareham is one of the hardest hit of all local authorities in Hampshire.
‘Despite voicing our significant concerns during the consultation, the government’s publication of its changed planning rules will have an immediate effect. That places the council in a situation where we must consider planning applications in the context of the government significantly increasing our deemed housing need.’
Government will now ask the council to come up with an action plan if not enough homes have been built.
Resident Rosaria Sartori said: ‘In a few years you want be taking kids to the park but you'll be taking them around a polluted estate.'
Kev Smith added: ‘Houses will never stop being built, protest, petition, whatever. Houses are needed, houses will be built.’
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘While Gosport can expect very little extra housing because of the well-known infrastructure issues, the unreasonable expectations on Fareham will make it difficult to protect the strategic gap between the two boroughs. I’ve written to the minister to object to Fareham’s housing numbers.’