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Communities unite to defeat Marnel Park development
A PLAN to build 450 houses on the edge of Basingstoke has been thrown out by borough councillors.
In a unanimous decision, the planning committee at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council voted to reject the outline plan, which was put forward for land north of Marnel Park by David Wilson Homes Southern.
The decision prompted cheers from the public in a packed meeting room that required extra seats.
But councillors at last Wednes-day’s meeting, ran out of time to consider a parallel application by the company for 200 houses on the same site. This application for full planning permission is likely to be considered in August.
Edward Dawson, planning adviser to Sherborne St John Parish Council, who spoke at the meeting, said the decision was a victory for two very different communities – the villagers and the residents of Popley East.
He said: “This was an epic moment. There was no party politics. Both communities came together to defeat a predatory and opportunistic developer.”
Popley East Labour borough councillor David Potter warned it was only a first step in the battle, and joined Mr Dawson in calling for David Wilson Homes to withdraw its second application.
He said: “If they had any integrity and commitment to the community, they would do so.”
While residents’ groups were thrilled with the result, Giuseppe Zanre, planning director of David Wilson Homes Southern who had presented the company’s case to the committee, said the company was “extremely disappointed”.
But he added the company would wait for the next meeting, and he pointed out that both plans had been recommended for approval by borough council planning officers.
He said: “We are still very much committed to developing the whole site.”
The plans, which had attracted hundreds of objections, were turned down because: l Popley residents have had enough of development after years of construction work.
l Traffic access and parking did not seem to have been sorted out and would make an already bad situation in Marnel Park and Popley East even worse.
l The houses were not a “sustainable community” and would be stuck out on the other side of the new community of Marnel Park.
l The development would be too prominent in the landscape, and would bring Basingstoke too close to the ancient village of Sherborne St John.
l The applications were too early in the process of drawing up a new plan for the whole of the borough following the debacle of the Manydown case in the High Court.
Committee members said they felt David Wilson Homes were trying to take advantage of the confusion over the council’s borough-wide masterplan to 2026, following the Manydown High Court case earlier this year.
In that case, a judge said it was wrong for the council to have excluded the council-owned land at Manydown as a potential housing site and should re-draw its blueprint.
Cllr Diane Taylor said of the application: “I don’t think there is a councillor here who doesn’t think this is premature and opportunistic.”
But Mike Townsend, the borough’s planning and development manager, warned councillors some of their reasons for refusal might not stand up at appeal.