Homes debate rages

First published in Letters

Sir.–I was disappointed to see your recent coverage in The Gazette on the housing debate.

A whole page of coverage yet not one dissenting voice. Not everyone in our borough is opposed to building homes for our children.

The facts are clear. We need more homes in Basingstoke. There are more than 50,000 young people in our borough, all under the age of 26. Over the next 20 years, most of them will need a home to buy or to rent.

Many of our politicians claim that the forecasts of housing needs are just “spreadsheets” or “statistical models”. But our future housing needs are not based on forecasts – they are based on real human beings.

The 50,000 people who need these homes exist. We can count them – in our nurseries, in our schools and in our colleges.

Our children will need homes and we need to build them – just as our parents and grandparents did for us.

A vocal minority of NIMBYs claim that the people of Basingstoke need no more homes.

But have they asked the 50,000 young people in this borough what they want? Have they asked the parents and grandparents what we want for our children?

We face a simple choice – do we build the homes for our children or do we not? Do we take a selfish view or build the infrastructure children and grandchildren will need?

Our generation must step up to our responsibilities. We had the children. Now we must build the homes they will need.

Those of us with the next generation need to express our views as loudly as the NIMBY minority.–Martin Heath (Parent and grandparent.) Millennium Court, Basingstoke.


Sir.–We at SPIG (Sherborne Planning Integrity Group) were interested to read the discussion about future housing numbers in The Gazette (Thursday, October 25 page 6), and Councillor Clive Saunders’ exhortation to ‘Tell us what you think’ (page 8).

It seems to us that Basingstoke and Deane residents have already made their position quite clear – reduce future housing numbers . . . expansion is out of control.

It appears that Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council officers are trying their hardest to influence the elected BDBC members using statistics that are not fully understood, and whose impact is not agreed. The basis for an increased number of houses (from the previously ‘adopted’ number of 594 to the ‘mooted’ number of 770) is far from obvious.

Why? One simple reason is that there simply isn’t the infrastructure to handle these high levels of building. During the recent SPIG campaign to reject the (premature) planning application at North of Marnel Park (supported by officers, but voted out 15-0 by members – twice!), it became abundantly clear that the infrastructure simply isn’t sufficient for the extra houses – whether you are thinking of water supply (demand already at 97 per cent of maximum levels), effluent disposal (already exceeding acceptable limits), or road access. It was also clear that little detailed analysis had been completed into infrastructure responsibilities – and BDBC’s commitment to delivering them.

The statistics being used to support higher building numbers look suspicious. The lack of infrastructure provision is plainly obvious! –Julian Crawley, For the Sherborne St John Action Group SPIG (Sherborne Planning Integrity Group).


Sir.– I attended the recent Cabinet meeting of the Conservative councillors of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. The item of most interest to me was future housing numbers.

The numbers of new houses are being decided on totally localised census statistics based on house-build performance over recent years and escalated, based on prediction of the future housing needs of the borough, using these previous figures.

This sounds logical, until you factor in the house-build targets of neighbouring boroughs, Reading, Wokingham, Winchester, Portsmouth, Southampton etc.

These areas all have had significantly lower government targets of homes to build per annum, than Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. To add insult to injury, these boroughs have built even less than their paltry government targets, whereas Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has built well over their government target of homes – the fourth largest in the South East.

So to continue to calculate future housebuilding numbers in this way means that Basingstoke will become a dormitory town for these surrounding boroughs and enable them to continue to fail to meet their obligations regarding new housing.

Basingstoke is not a developing town in terms of employment as it used to be. In fact, the number of employers paying salaries which enabled people to actually buy a house in Basingstoke, is falling.

It is about time Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council told Government planning inspectors what we have done in the past and say “enough is enough”, and insist that our neighbours meet targets in the future.

Failure to act with the courage required will destroy Basingstoke. –Tony Fendall, Inkpen Gardens, Lychpit, Basingstoke.

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