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Nature sites under threat from developers
The Government’s “localism” agenda will go out the window if developers continue to win permission to build houses on environmentally-sensitive sites.
That’s the view of Test Valley councillor, Alan Dowden, as the authority prepares to debate a controversial scheme to build 37 homes next door to Baddesley Common – a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Emer Bog nature reserve, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Baddesley Close Meadow and Woodland, a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).
Protesters have drawn up two petitions, with a total of 229 signatures, against Burton Property Ventures’ proposals to develop 1.9 hectares of grazing land at Baddesley Close.
Test Valley Borough Council has also received 49 letters of objection and just two in favour of the scheme .
Mr Dowden claims Test Valley’s lack of an adopted Local Plan leaves greenfield sites exposed. “Developers know that they won’t be turned down because councillors are being forced to approve them because of a shortage of housing land supply in southern Test Valley. The council is in a mess because they failed with the last Local Plan and haven’t got one in place now.
“Officers are recommending the 37 homes at Baddesley Close are approved purely on the grounds that there is an inadequate housing land supply. The same happened with the plans for 39 homes at Morley’s Lane, Ampfield, which is in the village conservation area.”
Taking a swipe at the Coalition, Mr Dowden said: “The Government talks about localism, but North Baddesley Parish Council and residents in the village don’t support the Baddesley Close plans, yet the planning officer is still recommending permission.
“Enough is enough. I think that we are in a situation where local councillors are doing the dirty work for the Government.”
Objectors to the scheme include Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Romsey and District Society, and both North Baddesley and Romsey Extra Parish Councils.
Peter Hutching, from the wildlife trust, said: “The trust is concerned that this development will add to recreational pressure being put on our Baddesley Common and Emer Bog nature reserve.
“We welcome people to visit our nature reserves, but these wild places cannot provide the open spaces that the people of the local area need.
“We need the borough council to plan for providing new open spaces to meet the needs of the growing population of the borough.”
Earlier in the year, when Burton Property first announced it plans, director Adam O’Brien said: “We feel with our proposal for 37 new homes that there are several additional benefits on offer that will enhance the immediate vicinity, not just for new residents, but for the existing community in the Baddesley Close area.”
Burton’s plans for 21 three- bedroom, 11 two-bedroom and five four-bedroom homes also include recreational facilities for children and dog-walkers.
TVBC’s southern area planning committee will debate the scheme on Tuesday (September 17).
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