Another week where developers have set the agenda. It is difficult to see how our Council can occupy the driving seat again when it comes to preferred site allocations.
Stubbington, Portchester and the Western Wards have all been targeted. In one week we have over 800 new homes submitted. What will next week bring, Newlands?
All the sites form and are part of the “Call for Sites” strategy which Fareham Borough Council announced in November 2015 to deal with additional 2000 new homes.
Call For Sites
Additional 2000 new homes
The Cranleigh Road Inspector has set clear lines on how Fareham should calculate their 5-year Housing Land Supply, the inspector said,
“I consider that the 5-year HLS supply should be assessed on the basis of the PUSH April 2016 Objectively Assessed Housing Need Push Document
With those words, the Inspector gave our Council one big headache.
PUSH and local councils in collaboration created that document, it was signed off collectively by member organisations of PUSH and Fareham is one of those. Surely members of PUSH must have known the significance of that document. A quote from one developer,
"It was like having a gold bar presented to you."
Somehow our council needs to push back and reinstate their authority, there must be a plan somewhere to counter this chaos, there must be, surely?
The bottom line is that the council have lost control of their planning strategy. The developers are driving the "Call for Sites" now and just at the moment there seems to be very little that FBC can do about it.
At this rate we will need a plan "C", sorry but the council are playing catch up.
Residents want to hear that Cllr. Woodward is on top of this, what do we have, silence! Even members of the council are unaware of how we are going get out of this hole, very unhelpful, especially when ward councillors have anxious residents phoning them up and asking what the strategy is to plug the hole. Councillors need to say something to their ward residents and speculating is the only tool there is.
Not only do we have congestion on our roads, we now have congestion at the Fareham Council Planning department with developers queueing up with their mad planning proposals.
I am sorry but Cllr. Woodward should consider his position, he's the architect of this mess.
Our message to the residents of Fareham is: "Yes it does seem chaotic at present, however we all need to stand firm and remain steadfast in our opposition to the preposterous plans developers have for Fareham."
The Inspector in his report interestingly refers to the “The Navigator” appeal decision. 20th January 2015.
Although this is not a surprise because Persimmon Homes refer to The Navigator report in their submitted evidence to the inspector and which formed a critical part of their argument for development at Cranleigh Road. On reading the Cranleigh Road inspector's report it is very clear he supports The Navigator inspector's findings.
Those of us who can remember will know the inspector came under a barrage of criticism for allowing the Navigator’s appeal.
The inspector's report on Cranleigh Road says
“The Local Planning Authority was aware during the Navigator appeal in December 2014 that the Objectively Assessed Need - Push Document identified in the 2014 South Hampshire SHMA - Strategic Housing Assessment is materially higher than the Core Strategy - Fareham Borough Council Local Plan - local Plan -part 1."
The decision in the Navigator appeal, which was not challenged, (the key phrase here is - "not challenged") was predicated on an acceptance that 2014 Objectively Assessed Need provided a more suitable basis for a 5-year Housing Land Supply calculation”.
The inspector goes on to say, and this is very important,
“I consider that the 5-year Housing Land Supply should be assessed on the basis of the PUSH April 2016 OAN - Objectively Assessed Need - Push Document"
The Cranleigh Road inspector fully endorses “The Navigator“ appeal decision”
Shaun Cunninghams letter in dated Saturday 19th Aug2017
Yes, we can shed a few tears over the decision to allow development at Cranleigh Road, in fact my thoughts were of anger that once again the community of Portchester has been ignored, however, my attention now turns to the family of badgers who presently occupy the site who are about to receive an evicted notice.
My thoughts are with the badgers and the wildlife who will be forcefully be moved on and I hope this task in relocating the Badgers is completed in a humane way, but no matter how it is done this task will be distressing for them. They have no voice and therefore the duty falls on all of us to ensure this deed is done humanely.
The inspectors' decision has huge implications not just for Cranleigh Road but all the other greenfield sites across Fareham. Fareham's local plan has been found to have a major flaw embedded within it. The bottom line was, the council was gambling that their interpretation of the land supply calculation was right and took the view they could demonstrate they had a 5-year land supply, the problem, of course, developers believed they could establish otherwise.
The inspector after looking at all the evidence sided with developers and came to the conclusion that Fareham Borough Council had only 2 years land supply. That's a huge difference and one which will have major ramifications on how our local plan stands up to further examination by an increasing number of developers who will see the Inspector's report has nothing less than a window of opportunity.
There's no point in dismissing what has happened, our local plan has been holed below the waterline and it needs plugging urgently. How this will be achieved is open to much debated and time is not on our side. With Welborne proving to be problematic in its delivery and with more disappointments surely to come, which is inevitable on such a complex site, I fear other communities will need to brace themselves against a tide of development which was not envisaged.
The announcement in November of 2015 for an additional 2000 new homes when the ink was barely dry on the Welborne Plan in my mind created the opening developers are now exploiting and the sad truth is, they will not stop until the hole in our local plan is plugged.
The question is, do we have a local plan fit for purpose?
The inspector's decision in allowing the Cranleigh Road planning appeal will have profound consequences on many greenfield sites across Fareham.
The Council case in fighting the appeal was based on the argument that it had 5.7 years land supply, therefore, meeting the government rule of 5 years. The Cranleigh Road inspector concluded the Council had only 2 years.
In June 2015 the Welborne Plan was found sound, even though many in our community said it was an immature plan which will be found wanting and more importantly problematic to deliver within the time frame set out.
Some though couldn't resist a little cockiness after seeing the green light for Welborne and up the stakes by announcing an additional 2000 new homes on top of Welborne in November of that year.
There was no need to make such an announcement at that particular time but in doing so put Fareham Council's land supply figures under enormous strain, in fact, it was the last straw that broke the camel's back.
We now have what many said would happen, Welborne and a gaping hole in our local plan, in fact, our local plan has been holed below the waterline, those extra 2000 additional homes have just sunk the very plan which was to support them.
No one expected the Titanic to sink, it supposedly had a fool proof design, it seems our local plan is depressingly following the same trajectory.
The inspector has award costs against Fareham Council Council. The sums involved are yet to be determined but will run into ten's of thousands of pounds.
Today is a depressing day for Fareham, someone needs to take responsibility, but I have no confidence anyone will.