Planning Priorities: time to rethink

The timetable for approving Fareham’s Local Plan will have to be re-assessed. With most of life and endeavour currently on hold, the only certainty is that plans will change once the plague has passed.

The urgent and very necessary responses needed to combat COVID-19 have ensured that there will be no ‘getting back to normal’ – leastways, it will be some new kind of normality.

I believe the pre-pandemic timetable for our Local Plan must be changed for three reasons.

Firstly, the priorities demanded by Westminster will, inevitably, be changed. Almost certainly priorities for Health, Housing, Education and Economic reconstruction will need to be reviewed. It may be expected that infrastructure priorities will be redefined, with Roads and Rail investments seeming less vital than transition to full fibre connectivity.

Secondly, the case for greener planning has shifted beyond debate. The pattern of economic stimulus applied after the 2008 global crash cannot be replicated. Public investments will, this time around, demand public return – and that means far more than job recreation. The investment justifications must also demand pro-active support for commercial efforts to combat climate change.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the Local Plan as it stands has no democratic mandate. If the May 2020 local elections had gone ahead our communities would have known exactly what they were voting for. In earlier commentary we had questioned the adequacy of Local Plan consultation. In the post-pandemic rebuilding of the UK we will campaign for far greater devolution of authority to Local Authorities – a shift away from the over-centralisation of recent decades.

It will take some time for our country and communities to recover. We should certainly not crash on with any Local Plan based on old ideas without the support of local people.




Welborne needs a rail link

Land has been earmarked alongside the Fareham-Eastleigh railway line for a station to serve the planned 6,000-home garden village at Welborne.
Fareham Lib Dems strongly support the idea – our Planning and Development spokesman Cllr Jim Forrest has convened meetings between Council officers and rail chiefs to advance the project.

Fareham Council has put the case for a Welborne station in its response to a consultation by Transport for the South East.
However, the Council quotes a cost of £68-78million, based on a study by Network Rail.
That figure assumes “maximum risk” for all aspects of the project, with provision of station buildings from the outset. The pressure group Railfuture estimates a basic station could be provided at much lower cost in the early stages of Welborne. See details here.

A single-platform station at Cranbrook, Devon, a similar development to Welborne, opened in 2015 at a cost of £5million.

Giving residents access to a rail link from the start would encourage rail travel rather than car use, building a customer base which would enable a more elaborate station to be developed as the village grows.

A simple station like Botley’s could serve Welborne in its early years

Our Vision for Fareham

We will work to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society. We commit to working with all parties to serve the residents of Fareham while promoting liberal democratic values in the borough.


Democracy

We will promote democratic change in the running of council affairs.

Housing

We will promote the building of new homes, which actually serve local residents across all sectors of need, using Brownfield rather than Greenfield sites where possible.

We will press for better standards of design, more space and greater energy efficiency when building new homes in the borough to counterbalance falling Government standards.

Health and Social Care

We will work with Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group to preserve access to services and Public Health England to make Fareham borough a healthy environment in which to live.

Transport

We will campaign for the provision of bus services that promote residents’ independence and access to community facilities.

Environment

We will work to protect and enhance our green spaces, reduce pollution, promote recycling and provide a healthy environment for the residents.

Our Vision Explained >>