Last chance to make it YOUR Plan

REMEMBER – Friday December 18 the deadline for the consultation on Fareham’s Local Plan, which will shape the Borough from now until 2037.

If you want to comment, go to the consultatation pages HERE on Fareham Council’s website which givse advice and links on how to view documents and maps, and how to make comments.

The material there is by no means the whole story. The draft text of the Publication Local Plan, approved at the Council meeting on October 22, runs to 300 pages, summing up literally thousands of pages of evidence and years of work by our council staff..

Some light reading…

You will be able to see the main document in the minutes of the October 22 Council meeting , and get a flavour of the discussion that took place.

Minutes of the Planning & Development Scrutiny Panel, which discussed the draft plan on October 8, have already been published. Those two meetings were marathons of almost five hours each, so your councillors have given the plan a thorough examination.

It’s not a simple process to make comments, but it’s worth making the effort if you care about our town’s future. Your comments will be read by a Government planning inspector who will rule on the plan.

But to carry weight with the inspector, they must be based on one of three grounds set out on pages 8-9 of Fareham TodayCompliance with planning laws, Soundness in meeting the needs of the area within national planning policies, and Co-operation with neighbouring councils and other public bodies.

Most public attention on planning focuses on house-building. But remember that there are other equally important factors, such as employment, shopping, transport, climate and the environment.

Urbanisation comes through roads, supermarkets and industrial units as well as streets and homes.

We all want to preserve the best features of our immediate surroundings as much as possible. But the quality of our home area depends on the health and prosperity of our wider community. As Liberal Democrats, we seek to ensure that Fareham’s Local Plan is the best it can be for all of Fareham’s people.

Councillor Jim Forrest

Lib Dem spokesman on Planning and Development.

With friends like these…

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage recently called for decisions on two proposed housing developments in Fareham’s Strategic Gap to be taken away from the Planning Inspectorate, and ruled on instead by the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Yes, that Robert Jenrick! The Minister many say should resign because of his part in giving newspaper tycoon Richard Desmond permission for a huge London property development the day before it would have become liable to a £50million Community Infrastructure Levy.

(Community Infrastructure Levy – CIL – is not some obscure, punitive tax imposed at the whim of a Council which Mr Desmond described as “Marxists”. It’s the contribution developers all over the country pay to councils to provide facilities like schools, clinics, road improvements and play areas – the infrastructure put under strain by new housing developments.)

As it happens, Fareham’s Planning Committee this week voted unanimously against the two proposed developments, totalling 190 homes in the countryside between Newgate Lane and the new relief road. (Full story here). But the developers had already appealed because of delay in considering them, so they will go to the Planning Inspectorate.

Fareham’s planning officers cited 14 issues on which the proposals conflict with the Borough’s adopted policy, and elected planning councillors voted 8-0 to back their recommendation of refusal.

It’s disappointing that this clear local consensus should have to be re-examined by an outside official. But at least we have the comfort that HM Planning Inspectors have made several recent rulings protecting Fareham’s Strategic Gap, which benefits Gosport as well as Fareham.

It’s hard to see why Gosport’s MP believes that Robert Jenrick would be a better friend to our countryside. And indeed, any Housing Minister appointed by Boris Johnson should be regarded with suspicion. Johnson’s henchman – some say puppet-master – Dominic Cummings is said to believe that MORE planning decisions should be taken away from local councils and given to Whitehall.

Fareham’s Conservative councillors blame central government for the increasing demands for more house-building. But it’s not so long since those same Tory councillors were standing outside polling stations urging us to vote for – you’ve guessed it – THIS government.

Snarl-up over M-way funding

Progress on the 6,000-home Welborne development is at risk because the Tory Borough Council, County Council and Government cannot get their act together.

The three bodies are playing pass the buck over funding for the new Junction 10 on the M27 which is vital for the project to go ahead.

There was a report last summer saying the money needed to be guaranteed before Hampshire would do the work but it is has still not been sorted.

Now a report for decision on Tuesday (January 14) by the County’s transport chief makes this ominous recommendation: “That the Director of Economy, Transport, and Environment be authorised to make preparations for a potential suspension and termination of the County
Council’s role as scheme promoter to avoid abortive work or expenditure, pending resolution of the funding and delivery arrangements for the Scheme.”

The report calls on the Hampshire County Council(HCC) to seek “firm agreement with Highways England to ensure that there is clarity around their role in the delivery of the motorway elements of the Scheme”.

And it asks HCC to “support and work with Fareham Borough Council to secure Government funding for Welborne to ensure that the Junction 10 Scheme can be fully funded and delivered.”

With the Tory government making elaborate promises to its new-found voters in the North and Midlands, can we have any confidence it will cough up the necessary cash in the  South, where they assume they can take voters for granted?

You can see the full report here.