THERE was standing room only at a meeting organised to launch a campaign against the building of thousands of homes in the parish of Old Basing and Lychpit.

Old Basing and Lychpit Environment Campaign (OBLEC) met at Old Basing Village Hall on Saturday, April 15, where residents heard about the threat of having 2,150 homes built within the parish in three developments.

The group, created by the parish council, will campaign against the huge housing developments on greenfield sites, identified for possible inclusion in Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Local Plan, which details sites where future homes could be built in the borough.

The three sites are known as East of Basingstoke, Lodge Farm and Hodds Farm.

Basingstoke Gazette:

The group believes developing these sites will “compromise water quality in the River Loddon” and “minimise the value of the strategic gap between Basingstoke and Old Basing and Lychpit”.

Opening the meeting, OBLEC member Alan Renwick said: “The development threat is substantial.”

READ MORE: Borough council working to resolve 'appalling' taxi service in Basingstoke

He added: “The problem is that the borough council and developers want to build houses on greenfield sites which are unsuitable.”

Peter Bloyce, chairman of the parish council, told the meeting that Basingstoke has “built more than anywhere else locally” in recent years.

He added: “We have to put the environment first not the economy. If you don’t put the environment first our future is bleak.”

Alastair Rudman provided details about the East of Basingstoke and Lodge Farm sites which he said, along with the third site, would “double the size of our parish”, with 1,800 of the houses built on greenfield land.

He told the meeting that “zero facilities” are proposed for any of the sites, and would result in “unacceptable levels of congestion” as well as put pressure on existing doctor surgeries and schools.

SEE ALSO: 'Formal intervention' needed to address Basingstoke GP appointments

“The roads are already saturated with traffic and I can only see that getting worse,” he said, adding: “There’s nothing to benefit us.”

Nick Harris spoke about the Hodds Farm site, which he said would be the size of more than 100 premiere league football pitches with 800 homes built on it. 

“It’s enormous,” he said, adding: “Their appearance would destroy the countryside scene and would be seen from a distance, dominating the scene.”

Gill Moore spoke about The Loddon Valley site and how any development would impact the chalk streams which she said are “incredibly rare” and home to many species including kingfishers and maybugs, which would lose their habitat.

“We need the countryside. There’s a wealth of serious scientific studies that for people’s well-being, mental as well as physical, we actually need the countryside. It’s so important,” she said.

The meeting also heard from Steve Pickles, a senior planner at West Waddy Archadia, who helped another group of residents successfully fight housing plans in Eastleigh.

He explained the process for the development of the council’s new local plan, the draft of which is set to be consulted on in the autumn this year.

He said in Basingstoke and Deane there is a “significant tilt towards allowing development” because the borough council has been unable to demonstrate a five-year land supply for new houses.

Mr Pickles identified various other sites which could be used as alternatives to those in Old Basing and Lychpit, including 5,000 at Manydown South and 3,000 at Popham Airfield.

Those attending were able to have their say following the presentation, with Martin Heath asking whether the proposed developments were about “greed or incompetence”.

He added: “How on earth have we got to this situation? Local plan after local plan has been voted on and they have allowed this to happen. They have voted this and allowed it to happen.

"We have Manydown and the simple reason we don’t have a five-year land supply is because the incompetent council has failed to deliver on Manydown.”