Quarter to One in Morning Decision – Could NPPF Cost a By Election?

Daily Echo

Controversial plans to build more than a thousand homes on countryside near Botley have been given the go-ahead by councillors in the early hours of this morning.

Despite pleas from dozens of protesters and warnings that the development would “tear the community apart”, councillors fromEastleigh Borough Council voted through the proposals for 1,400 new houses at Boorley Green.

Hunreds of people packed into the meeting which did not finish until 12.45 this mornig.

The row over the homes has come as politicians vie for votes in the upcoming Eastleigh by-election, triggered by the resignation of Chris Huhne.

According to planning officer Louise Cutts, there had been “enormous levels of objections” to the plans.

Protesters warned the ruling Liberal Democrats that approving the planning application would mean they would lose out on votes for their candidate, Mike Thornton, who has backed the plans.

And many of those against it spoke out last night to enthusiastic applause and standing ovations at the auditorium in Kings Community Church, Hedge End.

Botley Parish Council chairman Colin Mercer said: “This plan’s effect on Botley and its environment will be totally profound.

Chris Tapp, representing Botley Park Golfers, said: “The borough clearly needs more housing, Botley needs more housing but it doesn’t need the biggest development in the borough for 25 years.”

One resident warned at the meeting: “This development will have an impact on local residents – and also how they will vote in the upcoming by election.”

Other campaigners referred to the support that Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has given to the proposals during a recent visit to Eastleigh.

Botley Parish Action Group leader Sue Grinham said: “Does Nick Clegg know this proposal will destroy a community?”

She added:: “Please, please listen and reject this application.

Ensure you provide a legacy to this borough you will be proud of in the future.”

Just two weeks ago more than 600 protestors staged a march to object to the plans.

The impact the development will have on traffic, the existing community and other infrastructure such as sewage and drainage were cited by objectors as the main reasons the new houses should not go ahead.

They also argued the application was “premature” because it had come ahead of final approval of Eastleigh Borough Council‘s Local Plan – which is where the area of land was first earmarked for homes.

The Local Plan still has to go before an Independent Planning Inspector – a process which has been delayed – and protesters say bypassing this step is “undemocratic”.

But councillors argued that the housing crisis in Eastleigh borough was so acute that the homes needed to be given the go-ahead.

Council leader Keith House said: “There is a time bomb ticking away here and the people that will pay the price of that are our children and grandchildren.”

The Liberal Democrat-run Hedge End, West End and Botley Local Area Committee also said there were more than 6,000 people on the council’s waiting list for homes – and the development would provide 420 affordable houses, along with more than 2,000 jobs.

The outline planning application was approved, with two abstentions and one objection from Councillor Rupert Kyrle.

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