A RECOMMENDATION to build 807 homes a year in Basingstoke was rejected by borough councillors last night because of uncertainties over economic growth in the borough.

Councillor Mark Ruffell, the cabinet member for planning at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, asked members on the planning and infrastructure committee to discuss increasing the number of houses built each year from 748 to 807.

He proposed the increase after responses from a consultation on the draft local plan in September and October, questioned if the figure of 748 homes per year would be enough to meet housing needs in the future.

The local plan will guide where houses are built in the borough up until 2029.

Comments made during the consultation pointed to a need to provide enough housing to support high levels of jobs needed for the borough’s successful economy, and to cope with an increase in people migrating to the town.

But Councillor John Leek, who represents Sherborne St John, put forward a motion at the meeting to stick to the previously agreed number of 748, which was seconded by Cllr Onnalee Cubitt.

The motion was won after seven councillors including Roger Gardiner, Diane Taylor and chairman of the committee, Cllr Paul Miller voted in favour of keeping the figure at 748.

Five councillors voted against the motion including councillors Keith Watts, Paul Harvey and Laura James.

Cllr John Leek told the meeting that he thought there would be another two recessions before 2029, adding: “I heard Cllr Harvey talk about Basing View creating 4,000 jobs but how do we know? I know we have John Lewis and Waitrose coming but it is a long way off. We are fiddling around with numbers because someone has come up with a reduction in unemployment figures. We reached a conclusion of 748 and I think we should leave with that. It is as good as any other number.”

But the leader of the borough’s labour party, Cllr Laura James said: “I will not be agreeing to any figure, I think we need to think again. I think what we need to do with the community, with the town and with the borough is look at what we want for Basingstoke.

“Is it that we want economic growth? There needs to be a much bigger debate about our economic master plan, is it the right master plan for this town?”

Cllr Ruffell will now consider the views put forward by the committee before he makes a final decision on the figure which will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on February 18.