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Test Valley Borough Council accused of 'squandering' £1.6m
9:30am Friday 6th December 2013 in News
CIVIC chiefs have come under fire for “squandering” more than £1.6m of council taxpayers’ cash on a controversial planning blueprint that is feared will be out of date before it even becomes active.
Test Valley Borough Council’s Draft Revised Local Plan - which is due to be debated by the authority’s cabinet on December 18 - includes highly contentious plans to build 1,300 new homes on Romsey’s southern edge at Whitenap and 300 homes at Hoe Lane in North Baddesley.
The plan earmarks where preferred housing development and industrial sites should be built up to 2029 and has been described as a “crucial document” by planning and transport cabinet member Martin Hatley.
But campaign group Romsave – set up to protect the town from overdevelopment – has discovered that the borough has spent around £1.63m on producing the latest unpopular plan.
The figure was confirmed by council chiefs who said the money was spent on staff costs and external consultants employed to update the plan since 2007.
However, they denied that being forced to redraw the plan had added to the cost.
But the money spent has been criticised by Romsave treasurer Richard Buss who said: “I am horrified that the council should be spending such large sums of money in an economic climate when we are all having to make massive savings in our personal lives and all this council can do is squander our council tax money on a plan that over 1,100 people have rejected.”
He added that some opponents are concerned that it will be out of date before it comes into force because during the redrafting period developers have brought forward other substantial residential schemes.
Romsave calculates that there could be as many as 960 homes built in and around Romsey which were not taken into consideration in the plan’s blueprint.
Last month, CEG announced plans to build 300 homes at Parkers Farm in Rownhams and David Wilson Homes and Barrett have plans to build an undisclosed number of homes along with sports facilities at Ganger Farm at Woodley.
Steve Lees, council senior planner, told Romsey Forum that these new developments could be counted as part of the overall housing need (3,500) for southern Test Valley in the Revised Local Plan.
Urging people to attend the cabinet meeting and “stand up and be counted”, Simon Curtis, chairman of Romsave, said: “We are asking Romsonians to turn out and show the council that by being there in numbers that they care about the future of Romsey.”
Full council will then have the final say on the planning brief for the Test Valley region on January 8.
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