Councillor Keith Watts, who represents Whitchurch on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is to challenge them on their approach to housing policies.

The following is a Statement put out by Councillor Watts:

“Irrational” Council pretends that 2011 never happened

A High Court Judge ruled in April this year that the actions of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council in drawing up a draft Local Plan were “irrational and unlawful”. Now a Liberal Democrat Councillor says that the Council’s administration is acting just as irrationally as it sets out to produce a replacement for that plan.

Whitchurch Councillor Keith Watts says that a 328 page document put forward for approval at the Council’s Planning & Infrastructure committee next Wednesday (12 September 2012) ignores all the detailed site assessment work done in 2011.

“The administration is pretending that 2011 never happened” Keith says “so they are turning the clock back to 2008 when the first version of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment was published with no expert judgements on the suitability of sites for house building.

“As an example, a site near The Gables in London Road, Whitchurch, part of which is in the Laverstoke & Freefolk Conservation Area, was assessed by Conservation Officers in September 2011. They wrote that ‘the site received a strongly negative assessment due to the fact that the development of the site would harm the character and appearance of the Conservation Area’. But a report written for next Wednesday’s meeting says ‘to ensure consistency of process it is considered appropriate at this stage to continue to retain the site as a Category 1 site’ (that is, suitable for housing development).”

Commenting on this statement, Keith Watts says:

“consistency is over-rated if it means because we were irrational last year, we must also be irrational this year. The report adds that ‘this approach has been adopted for all Category one sites’ so the Council are pretending that expert site assessments conducted last year all over Basingstoke and Deane never happened.”

Councillor Keith Watts will challenge this irrational approach at the Planning & Infrastructure meeting in the Civic Offices at Basingstoke on Wednesday 12 September 2012 starting at 6.30 p.m..

Enquiries to:
Keith Watts:

cllr.keith.watts@basingstoke.gov.uk

01256 896969
07 884 151 602
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