I wish to add to the debate over the old brewery site in Romsey.

In May this year I quizzed our current town centre manager on the matter and the essence of his reply was: ’The delays are caused by flaws in national planning law.

'The developer/freeholder is simply taking advantage of that flaw.’

With that in mind I then had a lengthy correspondence with our local MP, Caroline Nokes.

Daily Echo: Romsey GV. Former brewery site..27/4/15.View from Station road.

My argument was that “pressure needs to be applied on central government for the relevant law to be tightened so that developers who have been granted planning permission are compelled to fulfil their obligation and get the job done.

We are regularly told that there is a housing crisis so rather than allowing developers to build on more green-field sites, brown-field sites, such as our own Old Brewery Site and others throughout the land, should be redeveloped first.”

Ms Nokes’ initial reaction was to assure me that she had raised the issue a number of times in Parliament including in a ‘recent debate’ in October 2019 when a Green Paper on accelerated planning was referred to by the then Housing Minister.

Ms Nokes pointed out that one of the problems here is that the development has been started and successive Housing Ministers have refused to make any legislation obliging developers to build within a certain timeframe retrospective.

Every time our borough council seeks to make a compulsory purchase order (CPO) against the developer he builds one more unit which effectively staves off the threat of a CPO.

Needless to say the ‘promised’ Green Paper has not yet seen the light of day.

Ms Nokes did say that she had written to the current Housing Minister (Chris Pincher) asking him to pick up the issues his predecessor was unable (or unwilling?) to answer but she reiterated that: “It is only when legislation comes forward that we will be able to push for the sort of retrospective powers that the Old Brewery Site will require in order to compel the developer to finish it off.”

Daily Echo:

I know that I am not alone among the people of Romsey when I say that I do not want this matter to lie fallow any longer than is absolutely necessary to achieve a satisfactory conclusion for all the parties involved.

Every time I glance in at the site when I walk down Station Road I see what a disgraceful eyesore it is, and so near the centre of our lovely town too.

What is the point of all the other enhancement schemes when that carbuncle is left to fester?

Michael Bull