Fears raised that housing figure for Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's revised Local Plan is 'too low'

Public to have say on borough's housing plan

Public to have say on borough's housing plan

First published in News Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

RESIDENTS in Basingstoke and Deane are set to have another say on a housing blueprint showing how Basingstoke is set to grow over the next 15 years.

Councillors at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council voted in favour of putting the revised Local Plan out to consultation.

Thirty-three councillors, including Conservative and Liberal Democrat members, voted in favour and 18 councillors voted against the revised Local Plan. Four Conservatives – Cllr Rob Golding, Cllr Elaine Still, Cllr Diane Taylor and Cllr Robert Taylor – abstained.

The consultation on the revised Local Plan is now set to take place between April 25 and June 13, and residents will able to view it on the borough council website, at the Civic Offices and in libraries, parish and town councils across the borough.

The revisions to the Local Plan come after councillors on the planning and infrastructure committee voted against officer recommendations to increase the annual house-building number from 748 to 807 in January.

The borough council commissioned consultants Edge Analytics to provide additional research after responses from a consultation on the draft Local Plan last September questioned whether the figure of 748 homes per year would be enough to meet housing needs in the future.

Councillor Mark Ruffell, cabinet member for planning, told the full council meeting: “We live in a wonderful borough, and people want to stay living here when they grow up. Basingstoke and Deane is a great place to live.

“We have a plan that links properly to our economic strategy and the borough’s vision for the future. It is not a developer’s plan, not a landowner’s plan but a plan for Basingstoke and Deane. I ask all members to support it.”

But Cllr Laura James, leader of the borough’s Labour group, believes that the Government planning inspector, who decides whether to approve the plan, will say there are not enough houses being built each year.

She told the meeting: “We (the Labour group) have grave concerns this (plan) is vulnerable at the public inspection. We need to be honest with the community and say this is vulnerable.

“It is likely that when it comes back from the inspection, we are going to require the building of more houses. The consultants gave you that advice and we have ignored that advice. It is not a plan I wish to support.”

Independent Forum leader Cllr Martin Biermann agreed, adding: “I think with the economic expansion we want, we need to do some building.

“The inspector is bound to say we need more houses and more houses will be required, and not to put these in at this stage will leave us with great difficulties at a later stage.”

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