So many obvious issues, why will the planning go application go ahead?
The most common cry from local residents and the community alike is that there seems to be so many factors that make this development unattractive and quite clearly not sustainable…. so why does there seem to be so much interest from Bewley?
We believe that Bewley Homes, like many other developers currently, are trying to exploit a window of opportunity within the planning process at Basingstoke and Deane. Basingstoke & Deane have a shortfall in the supply of identified development sites to comply with national policy and the quota of adequate supply of housing nationwide.
It is believed that Basingstoke & Deane are some 850 homes per year, short of their quota on new homes and whilst they are currently working on a new local plan, this is incomplete and time consuming so the old plan is still the official referred to document.
Many of you may remember the term SHELAA, this is Basingstoke and Deane borough councils Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment. This is how Basingstoke and Deane will assess and formulate all available sites for development to meet their requirements to national policy. Here is a link to SHELAA: https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/SHELAA.
Common Farm was submitted for change of land use within this process and known as EW008 for those that wish to review. Clearly Bewley Homes are pre-empting the conclusion of this process but there is nothing to stop developers from submitting application on land that is not even promoted for development use.
ERVPS have spoken to a member of the Basingstoke & Deane Planning Policy Team. We have been told that they sent out a local plan update earlier this month that confirms that new developments will be focusing on larger sites in Basingstoke Town and surrounding areas as the borough’s principal and most sustainable settlement. Schemes outside of this area will be determined by the local neighbourhood plan. They stated that East Woodhay (Woolton Hill) has already reached its target and EW008 will not be in the SHELAA.
Looking into the SHELAA document in more detail, there is a shortlist of potential allocation into the Local Plan Update. The net housing requirement for the emerging plan is 7703 after taking into account the existing commitments and windfall sites. The sites with potential in the SHELAA document could yield a total of 16’594 homes, some 9000 more homes than actually required. So whilst we believe Bewley are trying to exploit the shortfall, it seems there are plenty of other sites within Basingstoke and Deane that satisfy said shortfall without the need to look at rural and unsustainable sites such as Common Farm.
In repeat, the fact that the site is NOT part of the proposed site of the SHELAA does not mean that we have won the battle, it just means that we are in a better position at this moment in time. If the site would have been part of the SHELAA proposed sites already, it would likely go into the Local Plan Update and therefore be very difficult to object against.
Even in the last few days you may have noticed lots of surveying in and around the Common Farm area. One of our members had asked the surveyors what they were doing, only to be told they were working for the land owner but did let slip they were performing a topographical survey of the land. So whilst there are many positives for us in terms of what we might read from Basingstoke and Deane Councils ‘other options’ for development……we cannot take anything for granted and the prospect of an unsustainable and inappropriate development of 350 homes, destroying green land, remains possible.