Portchester residents angry as council backs down from appeal

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RESIDENTS are ‘extremely disappointed’ after it was decided a controversial planning appeal would not be challenged.

Persimmon Homes South Coast’s application for up to 120 homes on land off Cranleigh Road, Portchester, was originally refused by Fareham Borough Council.

But the developer appealed and the appeal was approved by a planning inspector last month.

The council sought legal advice to challenge the decision but has been advised against pursuing the appeal.

Cranleigh Road resident Steve Cable said: ‘I don’t understand why you would destroy a community to build another one. I am very sympathetic to the needs of building but it is an unnecessary piece of work in the area.’

The council received about 500 objections to the development.

Resident Kirsten Wiltshire said: ‘I don’t think there are many words I can publicly use to describe how disappointed I am. As with any village we are crammed. If there’s an accident on the motorway often they all come via Portchester on A27.’

Council leader Councillor Seán Woodward, said: ‘We were extremely disappointed with the outcome of the appeal which failed to acknowledge the council’s clear commitment to housing delivery over the long term in its current planning strategy.

‘The legal advice is we would not be successful in challenging the planning inspector’s decision despite ministerial guidance to the Planning Inspectorate that existing local plan figures should prevail while an updated local plan is being agreed.

‘We will be consulting on the new local plan in a few weeks.

‘The Cranleigh Road appeal decision highlights the importance of having a robust local plan and we will be doing our best to make sure ours remains sound.’

Critics of the council have previously pointed to the fact that the 6,000-home new town of Welborne, planned north of Fareham, was supposed to mean that open spaces in the rest of the borough would be protected from development.

Liberal Democrat and Portchester East ward councillor Shaun Cunningham said: ‘The legal challenge to Cranleigh Road has run out of steam. In fact, I expect it was a mere dream from the start.

‘Developers will undoubtedly use the Cranleigh Road appeal to bring forward greenfield sites across Fareham, sites that are not in our local plan for development.’