THE government will not step in after Hampshire County Council blocked a controversial bid to turn a former Hampshire airfield into a quarry.

The secretary of state has confirmed they do not wish to call in the planning application for Hamble quarry, but Cemex could still appeal.

Although the county council refused the Cemex application to extract sharp sand and gravel at the former Hamble Airfield, the decision was not finalised until the decision over a ‘call in’.

Hamble Airfield is a former grassland airfield built in the middle of the last century and was operational until the mid-1980s.

As reported, after two and a half years and more than 5,700 objections, the decision to refuse the application came at the council’s regulatory committee on May 15.

The meeting heard from one schoolboy who questioned why you would build a quarry next to a school as you wouldn’t build a school next to a quarry.

Concerns over air quality and traffic were also raised by the local community as they rallied against the plans.

However, since the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Planning Casework Unit received a third-party request for the secretary of state to ‘call-in’ the planning application for determination, the regulatory committee decision was not granted immediately.

The final council report read: “Should the regulatory committee be minded to resolve to grant permission for the proposal, the Planning Casework Unit will be notified of the decision and planning permission will not be granted until such time as it has been confirmed whether or not the Secretary of State wishes to call in the application for determination.”

A ‘call-in’ means that the secretary of state, rather than the local planning authority (LPA), will decide the application’s outcome.

The secretary of state will normally only do this if the application conflicts with national policy in important ways or is nationally significant and will not do so with the Hamble quarry application.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “The county council, in its capacity as the minerals and waste planning authority, will now issue a decision notice which provides the agreed reasons for refusal as approved by the regulatory committee.

“On receipt of the decision notice, the applicant can decide if they wish to submit an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate – the applicant has six months from the date of the decision notice to do this.

“Hampshire County Council would be a party in any appeal process as the minerals and waste planning authority.”

For its part, Cemex said it is “disappointed” by the council’s decision and is “considering” its next steps.