At a meeting of the Welborne standing conference in mid-February, Fareham Borough Council made a surprise announcement regarding a new development strategy for Welborne – theoretically, in order to provide ‘certainty’ that Welborne will deliver its housing targets.
This new approach was subsequently endorsed by the FBC executive, on February 22. In essence, this new approach ‘potentially’ involves land acquisition using Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO’s) and the appointment of a Preferred Development Partner – rather than allowing the existing Welborne Landowners to develop the site.
The new strategy is likely to delay Welborne by at least two years, if not longer, and will cost some £1m-£2m of taxpayers’ money (excluding the huge cost of the CPO itself). This process is fraught with risk and has the potential to be hugely expensive with time consuming legal challenges.
Many residents and community groups have been involved with Welborne for over 10 years now, and appreciate that it is a hugely complicated, multi-agency project that has massive infrastructure requirements, of which the design and funding of M27 J10 (still yet to be agreed, let alone funded) is but a small part.
Many will despair on hearing yet again, the sound bite which keeps being rolled out when political spin is in need.
‘We need Welborne in order to address the FBC housing waiting list.’
Refer back, to the planning inspector’s comments at the public enquiry in 2012: ‘The affordable housing at Welborne cannot be ring-fenced for Fareham residents - it is a strategic/SE regional requirement.’
Clearly there has been a complete breakdown in both communication and perhaps more importantly trust, between FBC and the landowners. Were FBC to pursue the CPO option, then the fear is for a lengthy legal battle, at our expense.
It would appear, what lies behind FBC’s latest (and frankly ill-conceived) approach to Welborne, is a desperate attempt to try and salvage their housing development strategy to try and prevent development elsewhere across the Borough, ie at Newlands and Cranleigh Road.
Accordingly and as a direct consequence of FBC’s approach, which many of us believe will NOT deliver the certainty they are seeking, there is a plethora of unanswered questions.
For more information go to informfareham.org.uk.