Planning minister to be invited to speak to Hook residents

North East Hampshire MP James Arbuthnot

North East Hampshire MP James Arbuthnot

First published in News by , Senior Reporter

A GOVERNMENT minister will be invited to speak to Hook residents who are angry about development in the village.

James Arbuthnot, MP for North East Hampshire, made a promise to issue the invitation to Planning Minister Nick Boles when he spoke in front of more than 200 people at a public meeting on March 14.

The meeting, held at Basingstoke Country Hotel, in London Road, was hastily arranged after growing resentment from villagers about the amount of development in the village.

More than 500 homes are earmarked for land to the north east of the village, while smaller scale applications could see the total rise to 800 new homes.

Developers are taking advantage of the Planning Inspectorate’s rejection of Hart District Council’s Local Plan, its planning blueprint, which would have limited development.

Mr Arbuthnot said he will continue to raise villagers’ concerns with Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and has also met with Mr Boles.

He added: “He (Mr Boles) has said he is more than willing to come and have a meeting here himself, and I think he needs to come and be exposed to the concerns that you feel.”

Speakers at the meeting included Councillor Stephen Parker, Cabinet member for planning at district council, Ranil Jayawardena, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for North East Hampshire, and Basingstoke MP Maria Miller.

Members of the public then spoke and asked questions of the panel. Barry Dellar drew loud applause for blaming the district council for not adhering to Government policy when drafting its Local Plan, which was rejected last year for its lack of consultation with neighbouring authorities.

Others asked whether Government policy could not be changed so that Hart’s previous housing targets could be used when assessing new applications.

Sean Haffey, of Goose Green, said: “Hook is five times the size it was 30 years ago. I cannot think of another town or village that has grown as quickly – not Basingstoke, or Hartley Wintney, or Fleet.

“I know you (Mr Arbuthnot) cannot give an answer tonight, but I think it’s the general feeling that we would like you to go back to Parliament and do everything you can to ensure unwelcome developments do not go through.”

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