It was a very positive meeting in the Gill Nethercott Centre when Borough Councillor for Whitchurch Keith Watts held a public meeting and presentation of the Local Plan for the Basingstoke and Deane area.
Although the audience was fairly small some important points were then raised in the following question and answer session.
Cllr Watts opened by running through the history of the Plan which had taken 6 years to produce. In a clear and easily understood presentation he explained how the Borough has to provide 748 new houses per year, and that Whitchurch’s share of this was 25.
He emphasised that this was the same rate of growth as over the 15 years leading up to 2010 and pointed out that over the last three years the net growth has been just one dwelling per year.
The total for Whitchurch for the Plan period is to be 350, of which 150 will be south of Bloswood Lane. The location of the remaining 200 will be determined by the Neighbourhood Plan.
In addition there is an associated Draft Infrastructure Plan which sets out funding requirements local facilities, for example approximately £4.5million is required towards providing school places for 150 children at Testbourne and £4.1million towards primary school places. Contribution towards health provision and other community facilities were also included.
Grounds for support or objection
The present consultation is the ‘formal’ legal stage, to determine whether the Plan is ‘Sound’ or ‘Unsound’. Keith urged residents to submit responses that it was ‘Sound’ and to add any further views on specific aspects they feel could be improved or are missing in the comment field.
If the Plan were rejected then the result could be that the location of housing and the numbers built would be determined by planning inspectors.
He said his view was that:
“It is a Sound Plan for Basingstoke and Deane Borough”
“It is a Good Plan for Whitchurch; it provides enough homes for local needs and no more”
“The alternative is planning by appeal to government inspectors”.
Much discussion followed, with many present concerned about infrastructure for the new homes, especially school places and traffic generation. With reference to a possible increase in traffic and how congestion would be handled, one resident said “Suggestions to remove parking would kill the town centre”. Easy access to drive into town was important to many while there was was also a call to build an eastern bypass to reduce through traffic.
Overall it was useful and positive discussion and Cllr Watts is thanked for the presentation.
Residents are asked to make their comments by 4th October 2013 at: