A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build 260 houses in Tadley has been removed by the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council from the draft local plan following the discovery of a historic covenant.

Bewley Homes was seeking an allocation for land in the draft local plan and preparing an outline planning application for 260 homes on land in Skates Lane in Tadley.

The contentious plan had attracted huge objections with community action and a campaign group being formed to voice concerns about the proposal.

Tadley and Pamber Rural Protection (TPRP), which was formed by Tadley, Pamber, and the surrounding areas, has now successfully forced the council to remove the plans from the draft local plan after discovering a historic covenant.

READ MORE: Tadley residents form group to oppose plan

The covenant, dating back to 1975, prohibits developing the land or constructing any building on 40 acres of land which was included in Bewley's plans.

It was written when Nicholas Denis Crawford Conran sold the land to John William Frank Munday.

According to Kevin Chatburn, co-chair of TPRP, the covenant explicitly states that no building is allowed on the marked map, which encompasses approximately 40 acres of the 60-acre area Bewley Homes had intended to develop.

Mr Chatburn said: "Our group did extensive research to unearth the covenant. We investigated by researching historic documents at the land registry. We do it with all the developments that we see as being inappropriate for the countryside."

An update on the draft local plan will be announced at a cabinet meeting of the Basingstoke council on Tuesday, January 9. 

Following the Skates Lane success, Mr Chatburn said TPRP would continue its campaigning for all future developments in the area.

"We're campaigning on anything to do with improving the ecology and the biodiversity of the area," he said.

"We're getting involved in the newly announced Hampshire County Council recovery strategy and Basingstoke and Deane recovery strategy. We'll be doing lots of work in terms of surveys, evaluations, and recording of the biodiversity in the area."

Mr Chatburn also thanked the individuals who helped present the group's case to the council.

"TPRP thanks for the efforts of Alan Albery, Paul Sterry, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Tadley and District History Society, and Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, who have been invaluable in helping our campaign together with councillors Androulla Johnstone, Jo Slimin and Kerry Morrow who also presented the case to council."

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Reacting to the proposal being dropped from the draft local plan, a Bewley Homes spokesperson said it was a "terrible missed opportunity for Tadley".

The spokesperson said: "Tadley hasn’t received any significant housing development in 20 years, and consequently there has been a lack of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions, little or no affordable housing, and few new homes for local people to live in.

“The council’s own assessment in the cabinet papers demonstrates a requirement for around 945 dwellings in Tadley, which is the second largest settlement in the district. The site has been subject to rigorous technical assessments which demonstrate its deliverability in an early stage of the local plan, and this has been the subject of long pre-application discussion with the planning authority. 

“Bewley will be making representations to the regulation 18 consultation to reinstate the site which is one of very few opportunities around Tadley which is not covered by the Aldermaston Weapons Establishment restrictions.”

Cabinet member for strategic planning and infrastructure Cllr Andy Konieczko said: “The updated strategy does not include Skates Lane in Tadley as it is considered there are more suitable sites to meet the borough’s housing requirements.

"The report on the next steps for the draft Local Plan Update sets out the approach used to determine site selection. Skates Lane has not been proposed for allocation due to its inaccessibility and distance from facilities and impacts on settlement character, biodiversity and heritage.

"If Cabinet decide to move forward to the next stage of the plan process, people will have the opportunity to have their say on the draft Local Plan Update and the policies within it during a borough wide consultation.”