Conservatives on New Forest District Council have decided to do a deal with developers wanting to build an 80 dwelling housing estate on land north of Loperwood Lane, Totton.
As predicted by Cllr David Harrison, the decision taken by the planning committee to refuse permission, last August, was appealed. The Tory dominated Council had legal advice that they they had a reasonable chance of defending the decision to an Inspector at an appeal.
However, behind closed doors, with the press & the public excluded, the same Councillors decided that they would take up an offer from the developer that means the Council would offer no evidence at the Appeal in support of a refusal, in exchange for the Applicant making no order for costs if they succeed in gaining permission.
Objectors will very likely be upset by the decision. It means they can still make representations at the Appeal Hearing, but there will be no backing from the planning authority.
Cllr David Harrison, Lib Dem District Councillor for Totton South, quizzed officers as to the change of mind and it was explained that the legal advice has changed markedly since August. It seems the Tory government are driving housebuilding targets with vigour and have instructed Inspectors to allow applications, even where the Council hasn’t yet fully agreed its’ 20 year local plan.
The Tory Councillors voted by a large majority to agree to the Developer’s demands. Cllr David Harrison (the sole Liberal Democrat on the Planning commitee) abstained, along with two other Tory Councillors who represent Totton. It means that the developers will almost certainly be given the go ahead by the Inspector once he has gone through the motions of listening to local objections.
“The correct way to provide local housing is through a proper locally controlled and accountable planning process. This means that the District Council be given the opportunity to look at all sites, consult and consider all factors necessary to support development, including what additional infrastructure is necessary.
What we see here, is the conservatives, forcing local authorities to accept green field development, on a piecemeal basis, without having completed the Area Plan. It’s an anti-democratic form of blackmail.”