Wickham Society raises fears Welborne will ruin way of life

Many of the residents of Wickham village say they do not want Welbourne. ''(centre front) Michael Carter, of Wikcham. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (141911-7509)
Many of the residents of Wickham village say they do not want Welbourne. ''(centre front) Michael Carter, of Wikcham. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (141911-7509)

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VILLAGERS say they are worried a new town being built on nearby fields will ruin their way of life as well as leading to a loss of valuable agricultural land.

The Wickham Society has spoken out about the proposed 6,000-home town Welborne, which, if given the go-ahead by an independent inspector later this year, will be built next to Wickham on fields north of Fareham.

Society members say they feel powerless to do anything to stop it, particularly because it is being driven by Fareham Borough Council and their village falls under Winchester City Council.

Society chairman Michael Carter is on the Welborne Standing Conference – a forum of 35 groups set up to debate plans for the town.

Mr Carter, of Mayles Lane, Wickham, said there were many concerns about the impact Welborne will have.

As well as being worried that Welborne’s district centre will take business away from Wickham Square, the society is concerned that traffic will pass through their village and about the impact on the environment and the loss of farmland.

Mr Carter said: ‘If we keep on taking agricultural land, especially some of the best around here, we could be in for trouble. It shouldn’t be built on unless there are exceptional circumstances. It is the best of what’s left.’

His comments come after a University of Cambridge report, released this week, said Britain was running out of land for food.

It criticised the government’s lack of vision and warned the UK faces a shortfall of two million hectares by 2030 – something Mr Carter was keen to highlight as Welborne will be 370 hectares.

Members of the Wickham Society, which held a meeting on Monday, also raised concerns about loss of business, traffic and congestion.

Society member Peter Banks, 14, of Mill Lane, said: ‘Wickham is such a unique village and it’s got such a particular character which I am scared it will lose if Welborne is built.’

Dennis Boylan, 70, of The Square, said: ‘The A32 is already at capacity and so is the M27 during peak times.’

The Wickham Society said it was keen to meet other societies to discuss ways to oppose the town and to talk about mitigation measures.

Council leader Sean Woodward said he would like to meet groups such as the Wickham Society to work on ‘shopping lists’ of mitigation measures. He defended using the fields and said the loss of agricultural land was taken into account in 2010.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘The land is not the best and it is not the worst. Welborne will bring local homes and local jobs for local people. We have to take into account that people need homes and jobs.’