Welborne top of the agenda as inquiry into potential Portchester estate opens

WELBORNE was top of the agenda as a planning inquiry began into the fate of a 120-home estate.

Wednesday, 26th April 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:39 pm
Local residents who have fought against plans to develop land to the north of Cranleigh Road in Portchester

Lawyers argued over Fareham Borough Council’s ability to meet government targets for housing on the first day of the inquiry at the town’s civic offices yesterday.

The inquiry concerns Persimmon Homes’ plans to build up to 120 homes on land to the north of Cranleigh Road in Portchester.

The scheme was rejected by the local authority last March.

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Christopher Boyle QC, representing the developer, said: ‘The council cannot demonstrate that it has a five-year housing supply.

‘The authority has overplayed the impact that this development will have. This is a scheme in which the positives demonstrably outweigh the negatives.’

Proposals for the estate have faced strong criticism from residents in the past.

The appeal is the fourth time in the past 31 years that developers have had to go to a planning inspector to attempt to reverse a council decision.

Mr Boyle argued to planning inspector George Baird that the council was not meeting its targets for housing over the past five years, pointing to figures provided by the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire that Fareham needed to build 10,500 homes in the borough by 2036.

He said: ‘The authority fundamentally stands on the wrong foot with this.

‘It has taken an unreasonable approach and steadfastly refuses to accept the circumstances of its own situation.’

The council agreed that it could not meet the targets outlined by Push, but insisted that the figures were 
‘untested’ and that it was in the process of reviewing its current Local Plan up until 2036.

In 2015, the council adopted its current local plan which specified the 6,000-home Welborne estate and 3,729 homes for the rest of the borough.

Paul Stinchcombe, representing the council, stated the council could provide a five-year housing supply.

He said: ‘The Push figures are untested and should not be seen as a final housing target for the local plan. The council is pro-actively pursuing a number of developments with Welborne.

‘So far, we have had 50 expressions of interest from developers in wanting to get involved in the project.’

Andy Blaxland, the council’s planning expert, added: ‘The council is investing a significant amount of time and money to bring the development forward.’

The inquiry is set to last until Friday.

Residents and councillors will be allowed to give their opinion to the inspector during the afternoon session tomorrow.