DEMOCRACY is a form of governance in which the people rule, either directly or through elected representatives.

Democracy is a system of governance in which people choose their rulers by voting for them in elections.

Democracy is a system of governance where individuals are entitled to vote and take part in decisions.

Democracy is a system where even if you finish on the wrong side of the argument, one feels one had their say.

Anyone sitting through last Wednesday’s planning meeting may have asked themselves what on earth it was all about. Why was so much time and energy is given over by so many minds simply for previous decisions to be signed off again to plug a legal technicality?

I have to say, I left after an hour or so because I could not stomach any more. I'm not a rubber stamp, If you can convince me of the merits, you will have my vote every time.

Wednesday, in my opinion, was a disservice to democracy because communities felt once again disenfranchised, planning has become an absurdity, shambolic, messy and muddled, but above all, has become a process where communities have no real say. Basically, communities can huff and puff all they like but the wall surrounding the government policy on building thousands of new homes to address a housing shortage which is misunderstood will not fall because dogma rules.

The absurdity of the current position is, Fareham could allocate additional 10,000 new homes today thereby ensure their five-year housing land supply, however, if developers choose not to deliver them, Fareham will be penalised and have to allocate further housing allocations, effectively allowing developers to bank projects for another day while bringing forward new development proposals to meet a deficit in the five-year housing supply, a deficit they are party to, madness or stupidity, call it what you will, government are on another planet from reality.

If I hear the narrative again, we need to build thousands of new homes because teachers can’t afford to buy a home, as if building new homes is actively reducing housing costs, which they are NOT, I will weep. There is no evidence that building thousands of new homes in Fareham is reducing housing expenditure for families burden by the high cost of housing in this borough.

Teachers just like the many families on an income of less than £20,000 will not be served by the pretence that building new homes will be the sole solution to affordability, affordability will not simply be addressed by ripping up our greenfields for new developments.

Another narrative I hear repeatedly: we all need to jump on the bus, thus reducing traffic congestion overnight. Oh dear, if life was so simple. The commuters who are moving to Fareham to buy the thousands of new homes being built that local residents can’t afford are not going to become bus enthusiasts when just outside their shiny new home is a very convenient method of travel, a personal piece of space where one can remove oneself from humanity and design a space to their liken while leaving for work while the bus is still fast asleep in some local depot.

Affordability will only be resolved if local authorities start to build the very homes many of our residents require. Last week there were headlines that at first glance looked very promising, was the government listening?

The announcement that the barriers to local Authorities having the option to borrow funds to build affordable homes and take back control of providing the housing needs of residents and take on developers were to be lifted was not what it seemed. No date was given when the cap would be lifted, sometime in the future? 2020, 2021, 2022... it's anyone’s guess.

It is true to say, faith in the planning process must be at a record low, and it is not going to get any better soon.

Shaun Cunningham