Council defers decision on affordable homes at Braishfield

A CONTENTIOUS social housing scheme at Braishfield has been deferred to allow the applicant more time to submit alternative plans acceptable to villagers and the parish council.

Borough councillors unanimously rejected Hyde Housing Association’s nine-home proposal at Tuesday’s Test Valley’s southern area committee amid fears that the height of the buildings would have an “adverse impact” on the street scene along Braishfield Road and would be out of keeping with the village.

However, head of planning, Paul Jackson, advised members to defer the application so officers could renegotiate with the housing association.

Hyde wants to build four one-bedroom and five two- bedroom homes on farmland near the Wheatsheaf pub. All will be rented out to people with links to the parish.

The parish council accepts the need for more social housing but it is opposed to this scheme’s design.

Parish chairman, Mike Prince, told the committee its concerns were about the “height and scale” of the development.

Mr Prince revealed that there was a waiting list of 14 people seeking an affordable home in Braishfield.

Fifteen possible sites in the parish have been looked at for affordable homes including the application site.

Chris Balchin, of Braishfield Village Association, also addressed the meeting and he said that there had been “widespread condemnation” of the Hyde plan, which he claimed went against the village design statement.

“This proposal is putting houses in the middle of a field and the design is bland and not typical of homes in Braishfield,” said Mr Balchin.

Hyde Housing’s Christopher Buchan-Hepburn told the meeting that the homes would have to be built by March, 2015, to enable the association to obtain funding.

He said: “The development will be simple red brick one and two-bedroom cottages. It has taken us a long time to get to this stage and I am disappointed that there are objections to the design of the ridge height. All the homes will be designed so that they can be converted into two or three-bedroom homes.”

Braishfield and Ampfield ward member, Martin Hatley, said the application was one of the most difficult he’d ever looked at. “I note that Romsey and District Society had made a comment about houses being an inappropriate use of the field. But this is not really the case. But what concerns me is the roofline would be visible from the road. We have a scheme here where the development would be higher than the Wheatsheaf and basically I don’t support it,” he said.

Several other committee members criticised the design and height of the proposed homes.

A member of the public shouted “shame” when the deferral decision was taken.

Comments (5)

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8:33pm Sun 16 Mar 14

Mikeye says...

What a bizarre meeting. Despite the Design & Conservation Officer objecting to this proposal stating, inter alia, that "These changes...would profoundly change the character of the area to the south of Braishfield and would diminish the sense of gap between the communities.", an statement picked up and commented on by a number of members, the Planning Officer wrote it up for approval.
So after a lengthy debate, the motion to approve the application was defeated 13-5. Good news thought a number of us in the audience.
However, rather than that being it, then there has to be a motion to reject, and whilst their was some fumbling on exactly what the words should be, Mr Head of Planning suggests that because the Housing Association might lose their funding, that rather than reject, a motion to defer be adopted - what a travesty. So the end result is a deferment of an application widely regarded by residents of Braishfield as being completely in the wrong location ( and yes, poorly designed as well).
Since when has possible loss of funding been a consideration of the planners.
What a bizarre meeting. Despite the Design & Conservation Officer objecting to this proposal stating, inter alia, that "These changes...would profoundly change the character of the area to the south of Braishfield and would diminish the sense of gap between the communities.", an statement picked up and commented on by a number of members, the Planning Officer wrote it up for approval. So after a lengthy debate, the motion to approve the application was defeated 13-5. Good news thought a number of us in the audience. However, rather than that being it, then there has to be a motion to reject, and whilst their was some fumbling on exactly what the words should be, Mr Head of Planning suggests that because the Housing Association might lose their funding, that rather than reject, a motion to defer be adopted - what a travesty. So the end result is a deferment of an application widely regarded by residents of Braishfield as being completely in the wrong location ( and yes, poorly designed as well). Since when has possible loss of funding been a consideration of the planners. Mikeye
  • Score: 1

10:52am Mon 17 Mar 14

bobbraishfield says...

Agree with all above
I called TVBC after the meeting and was told the vote was for or against the grant of permission recommended by the Case Officer. This was defeated
15 for and 5 against but apparently this did not mean it was refused. WHY?
So another proposal by Hatley to defer which was carried as much to try and get a permission in time to complete the works before funding ran out.
Head of planning recommended this but when has funding limits been a reason.
In any event its the wrong site as many Villagers have been telling the Parish Council who should listen to its Parishioners
Agree with all above I called TVBC after the meeting and was told the vote was for or against the grant of permission recommended by the Case Officer. This was defeated 15 for and 5 against but apparently this did not mean it was refused. WHY? So another proposal by Hatley to defer which was carried as much to try and get a permission in time to complete the works before funding ran out. Head of planning recommended this but when has funding limits been a reason. In any event its the wrong site as many Villagers have been telling the Parish Council who should listen to its Parishioners bobbraishfield
  • Score: 1

1:52pm Mon 17 Mar 14

benholdaway says...

Agree with the above comments but I may be able to shed more light! I am a resident in the village of Braishfield and I along with a whole raft of residents are against the location of this development. I attended a parish meeting prior to this applications submission; it was also attended by a representative of TVBC. The main issue discussed was that villagers were not happy with the location and were very concerned and baffled at why the haste with the application from Hyde housing going in. It was muted that the landowner has been very generous in allowing the land to be purchased at such a low price and that the opportunity should not slip by.. I rubbished this as currently the land is nothing but an isolated field with next to zero chance of any development value ever other than this type. ie its a huge return on its agricultural value, tenfold. It was then, the subject of timing running out for the funding that is available slipped out, and that if the scheme was not completed soon the money to pay for it would return to central government. So there we have it, what some may call a “complete stitch up” so I saw all this coming a while ago. Application objections came from the conservation officer, some 35 letters from villagers, the parish council, Romsey town and district society and its contrary to the village design statement. A vote against the scheme at planning committee went against it (by huge majority) and then all of a sudden as relief filled the room it’s deferred. It was the head of planning that apparently sited funding as to the reason for deferral! And not refusal. Is this so it can be tidied up to get through ASAP so the money doesn’t go.... Hardly democratic or material planning grounds. Let’s hope the next general election isn’t deferred after we have all voted so the losing party can work out which polling stations to close for a re run!!! If you ask a committee, whose job after hearing all the for’s and against on the plans presented to them to vote (I mean an official show of hands) and they say no, then they say no. Surly it must be refused at planning and be left to the developer to appeal, re-submit or look at a more suitable scheme and location. Oh hang on but then the council can’t get some cash, oh ok let’s bend the rules shall we err cough cough um - lets swiftly defer it and make some desperate changes..... This development “SHOULD NOT AND MUST NOT GO AHEAD” it will be a lonely eyesore stuck out on a whim, un-integrated and overbearing to the village. The development will never be integrated and thus sadly the danger is that its occupants may share the same fate and that would be terrible. It’s wrong and that’s that, the council just have to respect it and accept, it as its committee once did? To be honest I’m not sure that under a code of conduct this application should even still be “live” given the vote and grounds of deferral, but I’m not a legal expert so not sure, perhaps one of your readers is?
Agree with the above comments but I may be able to shed more light! I am a resident in the village of Braishfield and I along with a whole raft of residents are against the location of this development. I attended a parish meeting prior to this applications submission; it was also attended by a representative of TVBC. The main issue discussed was that villagers were not happy with the location and were very concerned and baffled at why the haste with the application from Hyde housing going in. It was muted that the landowner has been very generous in allowing the land to be purchased at such a low price and that the opportunity should not slip by.. I rubbished this as currently the land is nothing but an isolated field with next to zero chance of any development value ever other than this type. ie its a huge return on its agricultural value, tenfold. It was then, the subject of timing running out for the funding that is available slipped out, and that if the scheme was not completed soon the money to pay for it would return to central government. So there we have it, what some may call a “complete stitch up” so I saw all this coming a while ago. Application objections came from the conservation officer, some 35 letters from villagers, the parish council, Romsey town and district society and its contrary to the village design statement. A vote against the scheme at planning committee went against it (by huge majority) and then all of a sudden as relief filled the room it’s deferred. It was the head of planning that apparently sited funding as to the reason for deferral! And not refusal. Is this so it can be tidied up to get through ASAP so the money doesn’t go.... Hardly democratic or material planning grounds. Let’s hope the next general election isn’t deferred after we have all voted so the losing party can work out which polling stations to close for a re run!!! If you ask a committee, whose job after hearing all the for’s and against on the plans presented to them to vote (I mean an official show of hands) and they say no, then they say no. Surly it must be refused at planning and be left to the developer to appeal, re-submit or look at a more suitable scheme and location. Oh hang on but then the council can’t get some cash, oh ok let’s bend the rules shall we err cough cough um - lets swiftly defer it and make some desperate changes..... This development “SHOULD NOT AND MUST NOT GO AHEAD” it will be a lonely eyesore stuck out on a whim, un-integrated and overbearing to the village. The development will never be integrated and thus sadly the danger is that its occupants may share the same fate and that would be terrible. It’s wrong and that’s that, the council just have to respect it and accept, it as its committee once did? To be honest I’m not sure that under a code of conduct this application should even still be “live” given the vote and grounds of deferral, but I’m not a legal expert so not sure, perhaps one of your readers is? benholdaway
  • Score: 0

6:48pm Mon 17 Mar 14

MJ Mullane says...

Although I edit our village magazine, I cannot claim a long local pedigree - my wife and I moved here a mere 5 years ago; but that might protect me from any accusation of entrenched thinking! I was observing as a village member who opposed the planning proposal under scrutiny. Bizarre (Mikeye above) is certainly appropriate; 4th dimensional perhaps, as a description of the meeting. Assembled to discuss approval or rejection of the proposed building of Affordable Housing (AH), the procedure allowed for both pro and con debate, as it should. After hearing both sides (and I noted that the Applicant managed to conjure up much more time at the despatch box than the Village representatives!) the Application was put to the vote. The village has never opposed AH providing it is sympathetically designed and located; but clearly swayed by the now well-aired village objections (disregard of nearly all of the TVBC accepted precepts in the Village Design Statement, confliction with HARAH's guidance on rural development, the totally unsuitable design of the buildings proposed and the random positioning to mention a few) the proposal was put to the vote and rejected by a very firm 13 - 5 vote.
That, by any normal democratic standards, should have closed the matter.

At this point a strange thing happened. I recall at naval staff college a lecture given by a Royal Marines General (he'd lost a leg by car-bomb in Northern Ireland, so was fairly straightforward!) who, in his lecture on leadership and decision-making said, by way of illustration, "You can't be half-pregnant". That seemed fair enough. Amazingly however, the Test Valley Southern Area Committee thought otherwise and decided that you could suspend gestation. In some strange alchemy of smoke and mirrors another motion ( loosely put "defer a decision to allow the applicant to redesign the houses for further consideration") was proposed (insinuated?), seconded and passed.

At a stroke everyone in the room was left in state of baffled uncertainty and disappointment in the knowledge that it all has to be slogged out again. I agree with all the comments above, most particularly the comparison Ben Holdaway draws with the conduct of this meeting if transposed to a General Election - and let's face it he's right because it is a miniature but precise example of just that.

This is a very sad example of local government failing it's people.
Although I edit our village magazine, I cannot claim a long local pedigree - my wife and I moved here a mere 5 years ago; but that might protect me from any accusation of entrenched thinking! I was observing as a village member who opposed the planning proposal under scrutiny. Bizarre (Mikeye above) is certainly appropriate; 4th dimensional perhaps, as a description of the meeting. Assembled to discuss approval or rejection of the proposed building of Affordable Housing (AH), the procedure allowed for both pro and con debate, as it should. After hearing both sides (and I noted that the Applicant managed to conjure up much more time at the despatch box than the Village representatives!) the Application was put to the vote. The village has never opposed AH providing it is sympathetically designed and located; but clearly swayed by the now well-aired village objections (disregard of nearly all of the TVBC accepted precepts in the Village Design Statement, confliction with HARAH's guidance on rural development, the totally unsuitable design of the buildings proposed and the random positioning to mention a few) the proposal was put to the vote and rejected by a very firm 13 - 5 vote. That, by any normal democratic standards, should have closed the matter. At this point a strange thing happened. I recall at naval staff college a lecture given by a Royal Marines General (he'd lost a leg by car-bomb in Northern Ireland, so was fairly straightforward!) who, in his lecture on leadership and decision-making said, by way of illustration, "You can't be half-pregnant". That seemed fair enough. Amazingly however, the Test Valley Southern Area Committee thought otherwise and decided that you could suspend gestation. In some strange alchemy of smoke and mirrors another motion ( loosely put "defer a decision to allow the applicant to redesign the houses for further consideration") was proposed (insinuated?), seconded and passed. At a stroke everyone in the room was left in state of baffled uncertainty and disappointment in the knowledge that it all has to be slogged out again. I agree with all the comments above, most particularly the comparison Ben Holdaway draws with the conduct of this meeting if transposed to a General Election - and let's face it he's right because it is a miniature but precise example of just that. This is a very sad example of local government failing it's people. MJ Mullane
  • Score: 1

3:45pm Wed 26 Mar 14

DavidRobinson says...

It smells! My feeling is that this was a clever manoevre by the planners to deflect attantion away from the strong and clear rejection of the site by a significant number of concerned villagers and an attempt to focus solely on the design issues. For sure the design was particularly banal and unsuitable, but the major problem is that the proposed site is contrary to the Village Design Statement and would be an eyesore if it were to be built, stuck out in the middle of a field.
This doesn't do much for one's faith in local government, does it?
DR
It smells! My feeling is that this was a clever manoevre by the planners to deflect attantion away from the strong and clear rejection of the site by a significant number of concerned villagers and an attempt to focus solely on the design issues. For sure the design was particularly banal and unsuitable, but the major problem is that the proposed site is contrary to the Village Design Statement and would be an eyesore if it were to be built, stuck out in the middle of a field. This doesn't do much for one's faith in local government, does it? DR DavidRobinson
  • Score: 0

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