JEERS rang out as council chiefs secured a crucial step towards finalising a controversial blueprint outlining the framework for thousands of new homes in Hampshire.
Scores of angry residents shouted from the public gallery as Eastleigh Borough Council bosses last night gave the green light to a major report outlining the town’s housing needs over the next two decades.
Their decision came despite the town’s Tory MP Mims Davies making a rallying call for councillors to reject the report when she took to the podium – receiving a standing ovation from the crowds.
But council leader Councillor Keith House said the report must be ratified so the final decision for the borough’s future housing needs can be based on “evidence” rather than “emotion”.
Councillors are a step closer to deciding the local plan – a framework which will see the borough providing as many as 20,000 homes by 2036, along with key roads and infrastructure.
The council’s previous local plan was thrown out and the authority was forced to draw up a replacement with its preferred sites or the Government would have undertaken it for them.
Last night the authority was considering a document recommending which strategic locations in the borough should be built on and how transport can be provided.
The document lists eight different areas earmarked for development – including North Bishopstoke and Fair Oak where it is suggested that 6,200 homes can be built, and North of West End and Allington Lane where it is advised that 2,250 and another 2,300 homes can be developed.
But people in those villages claim it will destroy their countryside, put pressure on congested roads and lead to their neighbourhoods becoming a suburb of Southampton. Gin Tidridge presented a 1,200-signature protest petition to last night’s full council meeting and told the chamber: “You were not elected to opt for the easiest options for Eastleigh, but the best options.”
Mims Davies ran over her speaking time as she made an impassioned plea to the chamber saying: “This is a second to build a local plan and residents aren’t being heard.”
During the debate councillors also stressed the need for housing to serve the ageing population and increase in people moving to the area.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Bicknell told the chamber the document is a “way forward” in coming up with a range of options before making the final decision.
He told the meeting: “We can’t afford to have the plan refused again. To jeopardise the plan at the moment would be foolish.”
He also said that if the Chickenhall Link Road could be developed, other proposed roads may not be needed.
But Tory party leader Judith Grajewski told the meeting: “Please listen to the residents.”
As the councillors voted in favour of the report, Cllr Keith House told the meeting: “We must deliver the homes we need. We have to look on the basis of evidence, not emotion.”
Residents will be consulted ahead of the next stage before a final decision is made.