COUNCILLORS in Gosport are calling for the protection of land between the town and Fareham.
At a meeting last night, Gosport Borough Council pledged to look after the Strategic Gap, which forms a geographical divide between Gosport, Fareham, Stubbington and Lee-on-the-Solent.
The news comes following ongoing controversy over 475 homes proposed in the Strategic Gap, to the land off Times Avenue in Bridgemary.
At the meeting, councillors discussed the need to discuss the issue with Fareham Borough Council, with top councillors saying that they want to ‘help out’ Fareham Council Leader Cllr Sean Woodward.
Leader of the council, Cllr Mark Hook, said: ‘People out there are angry.
‘They see this coming along after IFA2 and don’t trust Fareham Borough Council anymore.
‘Cllr Woodward’s problems are not of his own creation but I think it’s important that we sit around a table and discuss how to protect the Strategic Gap going forward.’
Chairman of the economic development board, Cllr Stephen Philpott, has also welcomed bilateral discussions with the neighbouring authority.
He said: ‘We have put a line in the sand as a local authority and said no to this plan.
‘They have a duty to co-operate and we want to make sure that there’s no misunderstanding on that.
‘We want to be a part of that consultation process, but we want them to retain the position they have always had on protecting the Strategic Gap.
‘We stand with our hands out open to them in friendship.’
But some councillors believe that the council should take a harsher line against Fareham Borough Council.
Cllr Phillip Raffaelli said: ‘The Strategic Gap will be fundamentally damaged if this draft local plan went through.
‘They have gone back on what they previously agreed and just do whatever they want.
‘I hope I am wrong about that though.’
Cllr Rob Hylands from the Liberal Democrats said: ‘Perhaps they need to build a few more high-rise buildings.
‘I think it’s essential that we do this in a way that doesn’t put them on the defensive, but there’s no argument that we need to protect the Strategic Gap.
‘Everybody has made it clear that building on it is not a very good idea.’
Leader of the Labour party Cllr June Cully said: ‘How Fareham Borough Council can go against this previous agreement is just incredible.’
Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Cllr Sean Woodward, says that discussions have already been held with Gosport councillors about the draft local plan – but that he is open to further meetings.
He said: ‘I invited Gosport Councillors Hook, Carter, Burgess, Philpott and Beavis to meet me at Solent Airport on Tuesday. Cllrs Burgess, Philpott and Beavis attended.
‘We had a productive tour and a discussion on housing and our respective plans; we will be meeting again.
‘We need, through PUSH, to produce a statement of common ground for all councils.
‘As friends and neighbours we will continue to discuss our housing pressures.’