A RECOMENDATION to build 807 new homes a year in the borough for the next 15 years has been rejected after Cabinet members from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council decided to stick with the previously agreed figure of 748.

Councillor Mark Ruffell, Cabinet member for planning, had asked councillors on the planning and infrastructure committee to consider a proposal to increase the annual housing number to 807 from the 748, which was agreed by members at a full council meeting in June 2013.

But councillors at the committee meeting on January 30 called for the borough council to stick with the figure of 748 new homes per annum because of uncertainties over economic growth in the borough – so Cllr Ruffell had a change of heart and recommended that his fellow Cabinet members should support this figure.

The increase to 807 had been proposed by Cllr Ruffell, pictured, 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, which needs to be approved by a Government planning inspector, will guide where houses are built in the borough up until 2029.

Cllr Ruffell said: “748 homes remains a robust figure, and takes into account the needs of the people in Basingstoke and Deane and the need to supply homes.

“It is a figure that allows us to build a sufficient amount of homes for the people in the borough, and 748 connects in sufficiently with the economic strategy for providing sufficient numbers of jobs for the economic growth we are trying to stimulate.”

He added: “I was not convinced that a short-term period of economic improvement should be the basis for predicting a long-term period of economic improvement.

“I have taken into account the views expressed at the planning and infrastructure committee in the sense that they felt that the current upturn in the economy was not a reliable indicator of head rates.”

Cllr Robert Donnell, Cabinet member for environment and climate change, told the Cabinet meeting: “I think it is a calm and logical analysis, and I salute him (Cllr Ruffell) on taking a decision and recommending action in the face of all the evidence. I do believe we have made the best decision we can on the evidence we have.”

The decision to stick with 748 homes per year will be used to inform changes to the draft Local Plan and these will be reported to the planning and infrastructure overview and scrutiny committee on March 5. The changes will then be put to the cabinet on March 18 and full council on March 27.