Borough councillors rejected recommendation to build 807 homes a year

Basingstoke Gazette: Extra housing 'not sustainable' Extra housing 'not sustainable'

A RECOMMENDATION to build 807 homes a year in Basingstoke for the next 15 years was rejected by borough councillors because of uncertainties over economic growth in the borough.

Several councillors on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s planning and infrastructure committee called for the borough council to stick with the figure of 748 new homes per annum that was agreed by councillors in June 2013.

Councillor Mark Ruffell, 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 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.

Cllr John Leek, who represents Sherborne St John, told the meeting that he thought there would be another two recessions before 2029, adding: “We reached a conclusion of 748 and I think we should leave with that. It is as good as any other number.”

Fellow Conservative Cllr Steven Peach, who represents Winklebury, added: “I have concerns about the theoretical capacity of Basingstoke and how much it can handle. From my point of view, I am sticking at 748 homes. The people of this borough are saying they don’t want more houses.”

But Independent Cllr Martin Biermann, who represents Chineham, was in support of the new figure of 807. He said: “We are driving as a borough for economic growth through the Local Enterprise Partnership. I think we should be crashing on with the 807 number. We have got to accommodate the reality of everything coming to the South East.”

Labour group leader 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 masterplan. Is it the right masterplan for this town?”

Cllr Leek put forward a motion at the meeting to stick to the previously agreed number of 748, and this was seconded by Independent 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.

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

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