THE blueprint which shows where houses will be built in Basingstoke and Deane over the next 15 years has been called into question by the planning chief who will decide if the vision is viable.
In a letter sent to the borough council last Tuesday on behalf of planning inspector Mike Fox, who will decide if the draft Local Plan is approved next year, Mr Fox raised concerns over affordable housing and issues around water quality.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has proposed a figure of 748 new homes to be built across the borough each year up to 2029 after councillors rejected a recommendation to increase this figure to 807, citing uncertainties over economic growth in the borough.
The letter from the inspector said: “The Framework (National Planning Policy Framework) makes it clear that Local Plans need to meet the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area.
“Plans must also deal with what will be delivered; where and when it will be delivered; and how it will be delivered through the Local Plan and any supporting documents – this last point touches on the need for realistic, implementable plans, which are more than just aspirational.
“In short, taking all these factors into account, the Inspector is seriou-sly concerned that the Local Plan may not provide a sufficiently robust platform for providing new homes in Basingstoke and Deane or an adequate strategy for delivering that objective.”
As well as expressing concerns over affordable housing and issues around water quality, other issues raised in the letter include questions over the shortfall in annual housing numbers compared to the South East Plan figure of 945 dwellings per year, traffic concerns around the A33 and questions on future improvements to waste water treatment in Overton, Whitchurch, Sherfield-on-Loddon and Oakley.
Councillor Mark Ruffell, borough Cabinet member for planning, defended the draft plan, said it is vital to securing the “borough’s future prosperity”, and added that the plan had been “shaped by the borough’s residents”.
He said: “It is only to be expected that the draft plan will receive extensive scrutiny and testing by the Inspector prior to him receiving the competing representations at the examination in public.
“We are working through the Inspector’s points and will respond as quickly as we can, providing additional information and directing him towards the detailed evidence in the plan so that his initial questions and concerns will be addressed.”
Mr Fox will be holding an exploratory meeting at the council offices at 10am on Thursday, December 11.