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Key Points in STaNHD’s Case

The town of Basingstoke has always jealously protected its coveted location in its unique surrounding countryside. The current Local Plan policy SS6 shows how much it means to them, banning all development in the countryside except under specific conditions.

In recent years, the Council has come under increasing pressure from developers to break this policy via speculative planning applications. These developers see the revision of the Local Plan as an ideal opportunity for them to build in the countryside.

The Council has now reached a watershed moment on this matter and the decisions that it takes on the new Local Plan will define the future of Basingstoke. Will the town become yet another with urban sprawl extending into the countryside towards adjacent conurbations? or defend one of its most prized assets by understanding and exploiting the massive, post-Covid, opportunities Brownfield, Town Centre, and Urban regeneration sites present to meeting the Borough’s future housing requirements?

Current UK Government policy guidance and ever-increasing environmental issues endorse pursuing the latter course of action. Councilors, in approving the contents of the new Local Plan, have an obligation to ensure that due diligence has been given to exploiting the above opportunities, in advance of any consideration of future housing development in the countryside. 

The proposed Upper Swallick development perfectly illustrates the challenges the Council faces if its legacy for protecting the countryside is to be safeguarded.  

We believe that there are three key areas that Councillors need to consider in assessing Upper Swallick.

  • Is the development needed to fulfill Basingstoke’s housing numbers?

  • What is the environmental impact of the development?

  • The potential loss of Valued Landscape.

Housing numbers:

  • There is no justification to claim that the development in the countryside is required to meet Basingstoke’s housing numbers.

  • The change in retail, commercial and working practice, stimulated by the pandemic, justifies a comprehensive rethink by the Council on the emerging future of the existing built environment through the current local plan area. The opportunities to repurpose and regenerate existing building stock and new/existing brownfield sites are on a scale that is compatible with meeting the future housing requirements of the Borough.

  • A Build Back Better approach focussed on the provision of high-quality affordable housing, improved public realm and community facilities within both the town centre and surrounding urban areas will deliver benefits to all. Such opportunities will materialise over the next couple of years and must be considered in advance of future development in the countryside.

  • The Upper Swallick Prospectus does not consider or address key affordable housing needs within the Borough. Last year over 69% of the 4506 applicants on the Council Housing list required single-bed accommodation, which increases to 87% if applicants for one and two-bed accommodation are considered. Such housing needs, it is universally accepted, are best met by locations conveniently located to central retail, commercial, social and transport amenities which the scheme is not.

  • The proposal ignores both current Local and National Government Planning policy, together with that of our MP and the RIBA. All agree that the use of greenfield sites to provide residential accommodation should only be considered as a last resort for development.

Environmental Impact:

 

  • The sustainability merits of the regeneration options, within the existing development area, are far greater when compared with the Upper Swallick proposals. The COs reductions accrued by:

                                    Retention of embodied energy in retained buildings

                                    Retention of embodied energy in retained/enhanced infrastructure

                                    Reduced journeys to central facilities.

                                    Retention of the biodiversity provided by natural habitat in the countryside.

  • The development would increase the surface water problems in the area.

  • The site is at the head of the River Loddon and any development will only increase the quantity of nitrates and pollution flowing into this chalk stream river.

  • The area is home to a wide variety of wildlife.

  • The area, over 300 hectares, is currently prime farmland producing crops that feed us all.  

  • The development will generate at least an additional 6,000 cars.

  • Traffic figures show that this would mean an extra 15000 car journeys per day

  • We have traffic models to show the devastating effect of this on the A339 and through Brighton Hill and Hatch Warren

Valued Landscape:

  • The area is the lungs of Basingstoke, proving much need green space for those in the south of the Town.

  • It is used by walkers, runners, cyclists, and many others.

  • CPRE Hampshire has produced a report showing that the area is a “Valued Landscape” and should be retained.

  • The proposal would irreversibly harm some of the finest rural chalk downland landscape, the North Hampshire Downs provides the most beautiful views over undulating farmland that stretch into the distance in all directions.

 

To Counter accusations of NYMBY

“No, we think our attitude is the exact opposite. We want to see our villages grow but it must be natural growth. For example, the village of Cliddesden has grown by 22 houses in the past ten years (10% of the village housing stock). If we do not see growth in our local villages they will not survive, but it has to be related to the size of the villages and not to swamp them”