This is the text of the letter which was presented to the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council at their meeting on 28th March 2013.

From: Sue Climpson

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I object to 550 new houses being planned for Whitchurch on several grounds. I do not object to some new housing within the town’s natural boundaries at all but I doubt that Whitchurch can absorb an increase of that size within the next 17 years.

The reasons for objecting to the total of 550 houses are:

1. The population of Whitchurch is about 4700. Using the national average house occupancy of 2.4 people this is likely to mean a population increase of 1320 which is a rise of 28%.

On what evidence does BDBC base Whitchurch’s housing requirements?

As far as I am aware, Whitchurch has no proven requirement for an extra 200 houses over and above the original amount of 350.

Will all settlements across the borough be getting a 28% rise in population? If so can you confirm that Basingstoke are building houses for 25000 people within Basingstoke town before 2029? If not why not?
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2. With respect to the above, in 2009 Hampshire County Council predicted a rise of 18546 people in Basingstoke & Deane from 2006 to 2029.
This is almost exactly 10%. If you accept the the HCC figures are broadly correct can you tell me why Whitchurch’s population is going to rise by 28% between 2012 and 2029? What figures are you using?
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3. Sites WHIT006 and WIT007.

I believe that 150 houses will be built on these sites. I would think that these sites would support far more houses and taken together might well be enough development up to 2029. The noise from the A34 could be controlled by acoustic screening which can reduce the noise by 50%. Tree planting would also help. These sites are within the overall natural boundaries of the town.

Site WHIT10A

Building on WHIT10A is controversial. Many towns people do not want it built on but I realise that if WHIT006 / 7 can’t produce enough houses then, regrettably, WHIT10A possibly is the next best place.

Site WHIT018.

Building anything whatsoever on WHIT018 is folly. Any development here will breach the natural, long established town boundary and in fact the site was rejected in the SHLAA version 6 2011 Update.

Here’s a quote from that document

‘Development of the site would extend the town unnecessarily into the open and attractive countryside and the scale of development would be inappropriate in Whitchurch.’

So can you tell me why this site was considered unsuitable for development less than 2 years ago but it is now found to be suitable? On what basis was this decision made?

Building on this site opens up the real possibility of a vast development of the adjacent WHIT 017 comprising some 82 hectares which, according to the government housing density recommendations, will be space for up to 4100 houses. It’s a developers dream. If built, you can say goodbye to the Whitchurch we all know and in which we choose to live. For that reason alone you should reject WHIT018. As I said above, Whitchurch has no proven requirement for an extra 200 houses over and above the original agreed amount of 350.
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4. Traffic.

The amount of two car owning households In Basingstoke & Deane is over 34%. The amount of three car owning households is over 9.7%. This is well above the national average.

Given the likelihood that the inhabitants of these 550 houses will have a higher than average income I think that we can reasonably assume that about 15% of these new houses will have 3 cars each, a further 40% have two cars, 35% one car and 10% no cars. That is a further 743 cars on to Whitchurch’s narrow roads. Most of these cars will pass through the overcrowded town centre roads at least twice a day. Can we say 500 a day? That’s 1000 vehicle movements per day, 365.000 per year. Plus delivery, maintenance vans, etc etc.

The new gin distillery at Laverstoke will have a visitor centre with an expected 100,000 visits per year. I think it’s likely that most will come by car. It’s hardly a family day out and those cars are likely to have two visitors each, but lets be generous and say 3 adults per car. That’s 33,000 cars per year and 66,000 car movements. Of course this does not include the staff, delivery trucks, etc, but using a figure of 25 vehicle movements per day, lets say 9000 per year. Combine these together and you’re looking at roughly 75,000 vehicle movements a year.

A glance on the map would be enough to convince most motorists that coming through Whitchurch is the quickest way to the distillery. But again, lets take a lower figure of 66% going through Whitchurch. Therefore 50,000 extra vehicle movements per year.

As an aside many of these cars coming southward would have to turn left at the extremely tight corner at The White Hart and block the roads up even more.

That’s a combined total of 440,000 extra vehicle movements per year within the town centre. This figure is likely to be a conservative one.
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5. Local economy

The entire 200 extra houses will be built on WHIT018. This is far enough away from the town centre facilities to make people want to drive. But just where is the parking?

Nowhere, and what is available cannot and should not be expanded. So people will drive to places outside of Whitchurch that they can get parked thus taking their money out of the town. I see little economic benefit to the town centre and many disadvantages.

People are lazy by nature and by building on the edge of Whitchurch you will encourage car use. The WHIT018 development is too far away from the town centre. Many new residents are unlikely to want to walk there and so will drive thus adding to the town centre congestion. Many will not be able to get parked and those that do will take the spaces that the immediate residents park in. Without parking in the town centre and with easy access to the A34 southbound those new residents are far more likely to spend their money out of Whitchurch in towns with easier access.

I see little direct economic benefit to Whitchurch from the extra 200 houses on WHIT018. In fact there may be economic disadvantages to the towns people like longer waits at the surgery and the greater traffic congestion in the town centre discouraging visitors from outside Whitchurch.
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6. Schools, Doctors and Social facilities.

I read through the last SHLAA which was very vague about where new schools would be sited, where the increase in doctors would be based and just where other community facilities would be located. There appeared to be nothing in the budget set aside for these. With an extra 200 houses and 480 residents just where are the new schools going to be built and with what money?

Can you show the detailed planning of the increase in the size of local schools, local shops, doctors surgery (surely of great importance given the ageing population), town centre parking, etc.
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7. Windfarm and WHIT018

I am in favour of a windfarm being built at Bullington Cross but it appears that any houses being built on WHIT018 will clearly see the windfarm at close quarters. Additionally the development may be subject to increased noise from the turbines as it appears that the southern edge of WHIT018 is within 800 meters of the nearest turbine. EDF has already said that properties at 700 meters may need ‘enhanced glazing’. In other words: it’ll be noisy there, possibly very noisy. New residents may be dismayed at the prospect of a windfarm on their doorstep. For some people the windfarm would be a reason not to buy a house there.
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8. Phasing.

As far as I’m aware no mention has been made of phasing timescales.

What happens when?

Phasing dates for the 350 houses were discussed in the last SHLAA. but not talked about in this plan.
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In conclusion:

Whitchurch will barely be able to cope with the 840 new residents that building 350 new houses will bring. Adding a further 200 houses and 480 people is ill considered and will bring severe disruption to a charming country town.

I’m not aware of any research into the local need for these extra 200 houses.

No new money has been allocated for facilities for the first 840 new residents and I doubt that any has been allocated for the 480 extra residents.

The development of WHIT018 has been rejected by B&CBC just two years ago so why has it now been found suitable?

The development of WHIT018 opens the door for massive further development which will triple the towns size.

The whole idea of building another 200 houses in Whitchurch at this time is frankly ludicrous.

We have to ask ourselves what type of country we are trying to build.

Is it a series of new towns with inadequate facilities? Or is it better to centralise development in areas which have those facilities already?

Just why are we trying to urbanise the countryside?

Bigger is not always better.


Sue Climpson