THE long-running debate of how many new homes should be built in Basingstoke and Deane each year for the next 15 years has been settled.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s decision-making Cabinet agreed last week to adopt an annual house building target of 748 new homes.

It is a reduction from the previous Government-approved target of 945 new homes, which was part of the now defunct South East Plan.

The decision followed a recommendation from the borough’s planning and infrastructure committee which was tasked with picking one of three different targets calculated by population experts Edge Analytics.

The company had put forward other suggestions of 792 new homes each year, and 761.

The borough’s planning chief, Cllr Mark Ruffell opted to choose the lowest figure.

All the recommended targets had been calculated by forecasting how the borough’s population could change, how many people would move in and out of the borough, and the average household size.

Cllr Ruffell said the decision reflected the needs of the borough.

He said: “This decision is based on robust evidence and has been carefully considered.

"It represents a good balance between meeting the needs of those who live and work in the borough and the need to provide housing for others who may wish to live in the borough for work or to be near their families.

"It is a figure based on ensuring a prosperous future for all.”

The figure will now form a central part of the council’s Local Plan which outlines how many new homes will be built, and where they will go until 2029.

The draft blueprint is due to go out to public consultation in July this year before being submitted to the Government's planning inspector for scrutiny in 2014.