THE debate over how many houses should be built in Basingstoke and Deane by 2039 continues to be cause of controversy.

Government calculations suggest as many as 17,820 new homes need to be built in Basingstoke and Deane by the end of 2039 and council documents reveal that Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) need to build 7,703 houses more than they currently have in the pipeline.

It's part of the update process of a document called the local plan, which sets the rules surrounding the development of the borough and can be used by developers as a blueprint on where and how to build houses.

At a meeting of the borough council’s economic, planning and housing committee in September 2021, councillors unanimously voted in favour of rejecting the number of new homes, which is set under the government’s standard methodology procedure.

Last night (Thursday January 7) councillors met again to continue to put together the local plan and carried on the debate over future housing developments and what this would mean for rural villages across the borough.

Below are some of the key things that happened during the meeting, which lasted well over four hours.

'Capital of the south'

Council leader Ken Rhatigan came under fire after telling The Gazette that his vision for the town is to become the “capital of the south”. 

READ MOER: Council leader criticised over vision to make Basingstoke 'the capital of the South'

Cllr Ian Tilbury (Ind, Whitchurch, Overton and Laverstoke) referred to the plan as a "catalogue of disasters" and questioned what the council leader's comment actually means. 

He said: "Cllr Rhatigan's comment about the capital of the city south sells the sizzle not the sausage, it suggests we should focus on what development adds to the area. 

"Well, we know what it adds to our area: more houses, more traffic, more problems and all the usual stuff which is never resolved."

Cllr Simon Bound (Con, Sherborne St John and Rooksdown) defended Cllr Rhatigan, saying he welcomes the idea of Basingstoke becoming the capital of the South. 

He said he would like to town to become the capital of ‘economic growth' and ‘highly paid jobs’. 

Cllr Bound also told the committee that he continues to work on achieving a realistic and sensible number for homes in the borough. 

He said he waits in ‘optimism’ to receive the new baseline from the Secretary of State.

Impact on the environment

Whitchurch was a key topic of discussion as 310 houses are proposed for the area. 

Cllr Lucie Follett Maitland (Ind, Whitchurch, Overton and Laverstoke), who is also the founder of Whitchurch Conservation Group, raised concerns about the environmental impact building homes will have. 

This included the constraints it would put on the River Test and its famous chalkstream and the nationally protected land north of Whitchurch station, which has caused controversy as a potential location. 

She branded the local plan as an “environmental top trumps”.

SEE ALSO: Councillors back protestors' calls and say no to plan for 18,000 homes

No questions allowed

Councillors on the committee were left angry when chair Cllr Stuart Frost announced that he had been advised that councillors were not permitted to ask questions to speakers or members of the public. 

Instead, they were told to email questions to Cllr Frost who would ‘ensure they are given to the right people’.  

Cllr Onnalee Cubitt (Con, Basing and Upton) was just one of the councillors to express her confusion, arguing she had “never” seen members being “denied” asking questions.

As the committee made their recommendations about the local plan, more work will be done and an updated set of draft policies is expected to be sent out.

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