Public inquiry call over proposals for 7,000 new homes

Councillor Sean Woodward
Councillor Sean Woodward
Fareham council leader Sean Woodward

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CAMPAIGNERS have handed a dossier of evidence to Fareham Borough Council calling for a public inquiry over plans to build a new town of 7,000 homes.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England is leading an alliance of local groups who want controversial proposals for an environmentally-friendly ‘eco-town’ north of Fareham to be closely examined.

The eco-town is one element of the council’s core strategy, which outlines development in the borough for the next 15 to 20 years.

But the CPRE has blasted the strategy as ‘unsound’ and claims that the council does not justify the need for the thousands of new homes. It also criticises the authority’s consultation process.

A pair of lever-arch files with submissions from seven groups, including the CPRE, Fareham Society and Wickham and Knowle parish councils, has been passed to the council.

Anthony McEwen, the director of CPRE Hampshire, said: ‘Many would consider Fareham Borough Council to have acted in a high-handed fashion over this development and it’s time the need for these homes was properly established, the reasons behind them were properly examined and consultation for it was fair and open. If they won’t do it themselves then an inspector needs to be called in.’

The Fareham Society’s report said: ‘The society believes that the core strategy is not sound because it is not justified as it is not founded on a robust, up-to-date and credible evidence base; it will not deliver sustainable development; it does not effectively address cross-boundary issues and it will not be effective or deliverable.’

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the council, said: ‘We will be holding a public inquiry in June, we have to, it’s the law. The dates are just being finalised now. There will be an inspector whose decision will be binding on the council and his report will be delivered in the autumn.’

The town was first proposed under the now defunct South East plan.