CAMPAIGNERS fighting long-term plans for a new town at Micheldever Station have raised concerns about Government reforms of the planning system.

White Paper: Planning for the Future proposed a radical overhaul of planning and make more likely schemes such as Micheldever New Town.

The Dever Society, fighting the new town idea since 1990, has responded to the White Paper.

In a statement, the society said: "While the Dever Society accepts the need for reforms to the planning system, we have significant concerns over many of its proposals."

Particular concerns include:

l Planning is not only about delivering housing - The White Paper proposes to radically reshape the planning system with the main aim of delivering the Government’s 300,000 per year housing target. The White Paper fails to understand that the planning system has a crucial strategic role in ensuring the development of sustainable and affordable places and communities. Planning must also take into account the environment (particularly climate change), transport, employment and the local economy, health and well-being, social and cultural priorities and the countryside.

l A lack of planning permission is not the problem - We do not accept that the current planning system is responsible for any housing undersupply or is the reason for reduced affordability. The problem is not a failure by local authorities to grant planning permission for new homes or the supply of land for housing; the problem is that the homes are not being built despite having planning permission. In the year from 2018 to 2019, over 370,000 consents were granted but only 214,000 of these were actually built.

l Local authorities would be under increased pressure to build new towns in rural areas - The White Paper proposes a new method of calculating the number of new homes a district needs. This would enable the government to force Winchester to build far more homes than the previous method required – 48% more. It would be difficult for the local authority to accommodate and would increase the pressure on them from developers wanting to build new settlements such as Micheldever New Town.

l Zoning of land would add more pressure to build on green spaces with no designation - The zoning of all land in a district to one of three categories: Growth, Renewal and Protected, means that it would be hard for local authorities to resist the pressure from developers to build in significant green spaces with no existing designation such as AONB or Green Belt. The Micheldever area would fall into this


l There would be fewer opportunities for residents and communities to participate in the planning process - The timescale proposed for the production of local development plans is too short, and we do not agree with the reduced opportunities for public participation set out in the White Paper. The proposal to allow new settlements (such as Micheldever New Town) to be decided under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure regime would remove the ability of local people and local authorities to decide whether and where new towns should be built in their areas.