Stand up to planning diktat

Lib Dems on Fareham Council refused to endorse the revised Local Plan, which is based on The Tory Government’s order to Fareham to meet hugely increased housing targets.

The revised plan now includes huge housing allocations at Newlands Farm and Oakcroft Lane in the Strategic Gap. And another on land west of Downend Road, with a new access on and off the Junction 11 link road.

Lib Dem Planning and Development spokesman Jim Forrest says: “The Lib Dem group refused to recommend the revised plan for consultation. We believe the Council should have stuck with the the plan we agreed as recently as December 2019. That plan had some unpalatable features, but it was based on sound research by our local planning team, not on diktat by Ministers and Whitehall bureaucrats who don’t know our area.”

Read more on Lib Dems’ criticism of the plan.

Tories’ £2m grab from local schools

Schools in Fareham are set to lose thousands in funding for the most disadvantaged pupils in the county following the government’s decision to alter the method of calculating pupil premium funding.

The pupil premium, which aims to close the attainment gap by providing extra money to pupils eligible for free school meals, was a flagship reform introduced by the Liberal Democrats in government in 2011.

The move is “a shameful cut” which “will have a direct impact on the quality of education schools can provide for those who are in desperate need of more, not less, support”, says local parent James Fowler, who stood for the Liberal Democrats in Fareham South at the recent local elections.

See the full article here.

Goodbye garden village?

A funding fiasco means that the 6,000-home Welborne estate will be less effective than promised in providing homes for people who really need them.

The developers, Buckland, will have to pay a bigger share of the cost of improving Junction 10 on the M27. Buckland has agreed to double its contribution from £20million to £40million. But they say this means they will have to reduce the proportion of affordable homes provided as part of the development.

A revised planning application for Welborne can be seen on the planning pages on Fareham Council’s website. The application number is P/17/0266/OA and residents have until January 25 to comment on it.

Bukland will also now be unable to provide Passivhaus buildings – homes and other buildings which need less energy for heating and cooling – or Life Time Homes, which are designed to be accessible and adaptable for everyone from young families to older and/or disabled people.

The shortfall comes because the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has withdrawn £25million it had pledged for the £75million junction. Delays to the Welborne project meant the LEP’s contribution could not be spent before a government-imposed deadline. But Welborne cannot go ahead without guaranteed funding for the junction.

A Government contribution to the junction will have to be increased from £10million to £30million via Homes England.

Jim Forrest, Lib Dem spokesman on Planning and Development on the Council, said: “Reductions in affordable housing make a nonsense of the argument for developing on greenfield sites. And the loss of adaptable homes undermines efforts at all levels of government to fight the climate emergency.

“If Ministers are serious in their estimates of housing need, they should have enabled the LEP to stand by their commitment. Instead they are undermining the concept of a Garden Village, and running the risk of making Welborne yet another over-priced, soulless estate.”

This revised Viability Statement attached to the new application sets out Buckland’s arguments for the changes.