The proposed development of the Bloswood Drive allotments (see story HERE) caught not only our B&DBC Cllr Keith Watts by surprise but also our town council – including our mayor – too.
The mayor of Whitchurch, Cllr John Clark said,
Over a number of years there have been numerous rumours about developing the Allotments by St. Cross. However, it was a surprise to the Town Council, when our attention was drawn to a notice of a proposed plan posted up at the allotments.
I was told about this on Sunday 23rd of June and immediately went to see it for myself. I could foresee a number of concerns arising from this with the Allotment Holders and the Industrial Estate next to it as already other residents of housing nearby have made complaints with regard to noise factor.
Cllr Clark also said,
The Allotment Holders held an open meeting the following week where Cllr Dunlop plus four Town Councillors attended. A Trustee of St Cross arrived at their invited time to outline their plans and took away some points raised by the Allotment Holders.
To date, the Town Council has not received any formal planning proposals. Therefore, we will just have to work through this in the normal way.
DEVELOPER RESPONDS TO QUERIES
Several questions regarding the proposed 40 houses on the allotments site were put to the developer, The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, through their planning agent Pro Vision.
When did you decide to develop the land?
The landowners have been monitoring the emerging Local Plan process for some time. They feel that the acknowledged shortage of housing in the Borough and the absence of an detailed, up to date plan to provide this housing means that it is now the right time to consider the redevelopment of the allotment site. It should also be noted that the allotment site does fall within the Policy Boundary in the adopted Local Plan, so it is not a site that should be considered in the context of the emerging Local Plan.
Is there a planning application with Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council? Number?
There is no current planning application with BDBC.
When do you propose that work would get under way?
It is difficult to say – there is currently no planning permission in place – it could take 12 months to have a planning application determined. If an application is successful it could be a further 12 months before work starts.
What will the access route be for a relocated allotments site?
The proposed allotments would be accessed via a new road from within the proposed development.
Would the relocated allotments site be of the same size?
The same number of existing allotments will be provided on the new site including some new facilities.
Why not build the houses on the north-west area you own instead of moving the allotments there?
The existing allotment site is located within the defined built up area of Whitchurch. In planning terms development in this area is acceptable ‘in principle’. Land to the north-west is in the countryside where the Government states development should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
The landowner is seeking to redevelop the existing allotments to ease pressure for further development on greenfield land surrounding Whitchurch. The landowner has commissioned a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment which supports the provision of allotments on some of the land to the north-west.
The assessment identifies the high ground as being visually sensitive to the setting of Whitchurch and therefore inappropriate for new housing development.
In your view, does your plan fit with the recommendations in the supplemental planning guidance of the Whitchurch Design Statement?
The proposals have considered, and accord with, the guidelines set out in the Whitchurch Design Statement 2004.
What provision would you make for people who walk and cycle around that area, and perhaps up to the train station?
The existing footpath would be retained and areas of open green space provided within the draft proposals. The landowner is unable to provide a direct connection to the Station because of land ownership issues.
Will the site include a road to the proposed industrial site north of the railway line? eg through the existing tunnel under the railway line
Provision is made for an emergency vehicle link from Bloswood Drive, through the allotment site, and into the allocated employment site south of the Station. There will be no public vehicle access via Bloswood Drive.