Lost countryside – for what?

Below is a submission Stubbington Councillor Jim Forrest has made to the consultation on Fareham’s Local Plan, which closes tomorrow (July 30).

Lib Dems on the Council voted against the plan. We believe the Council should have stuck to the plan they agreed in December 2019 which was based on a lower and more up-to-date assessment of housing need. Large stretches of Fareham’s countryside will be destroyed to meet out-dated and unrealistic targets.

On specific proposals for Stubbington, Jim argues that the Government inspector who will rule on the soundness of the plant should remove Housing Allocations HA55 (1250 homes south of Longfield Avenue) and HA 54 (180 homes at Oakcroft Lane, near Crofton Cemetery.

Jim writes:

“Allocation HA 55, south of Longfield Avenue, is a new salient into the Strategic Gap rather than a coherent extension of the urban area. The proposals are said to include provision to “maximise the open nature of the existing landscape”, but the “green infrastructure” indicated includes a high proportion of parkland, play space and a sports hub. Presentations in Council have suggested a large part of this will be sports pitches or playing fields.

“This will transform much of the area into a bland, suburban landscape, rather than a stretch of mainly farmed countryside – more tha a kilometre wide even at its narrowest point – which changes with the seasons. The nightscape of predominantly dark sky will be lost in a huge increase in artificial lighting.

“The allocation should also be viewed in conjunction with allocation HA54 (Oakcroft Lane near Crofton Cemetery) and with the Stubbington bypass, whose junction with Peak Lane will be light-controlled. Taking these together, the Strategic Gap will shrink to a few metres around what will inevitably be a busy junction at all times of day. 

“At present, all residents travelling between surrounding parts of Fareham, Stubbington, Hill Head and western Gosport benefit from a clear sense of separation, as they pass from one urban landscape, through a stretch of countryside and into another quite distinct settlement.

“That sense of separation will be entirely lost: Allocations HA55 and HA 54 are at odds with the Local Plan’s aspirations fro “the conservation and enhancement of natural and historic landscapes and assets ” (Paragraph 1.2). They should therefore fail the test of soundness.”

Lib Dems have also pointed out the unsoundness of the proposed housing allocation HA 56 on land west of Downend Road.

As well as exacerbating traffic pressures from other development east of Downend Road, the allocation proposes an access road from the slip road between the M27’s Junction 11 and the Delme roundabout which will pose huge problems on the main route between central FAreham and the motorway.

IFA2 passes all tests

National Grid report that the IFA2 Interconnector at Daedalus has completed its testing process, and meets all the planning condcitions set by Fareham Council.

The station is quieter than expected -during a quiet night noise levels are around 10 decibels lower than background noise.

There are no significant emissions that would impact radio frequencies used by radio and TV receivers, mobile phones, GPS systems or aviation and maritime safety systems.

See National Grid’s report here.

Thanks to National Grid and all the local organisations who have worked with them to ensure the project is a good neighbour as well as a big contributor to Britain’s energy supplies.

Newgate Lane – victory for residents

Plans for up to 190 homes at Peel Common have been refused by a Planning inspector after the lengthy appeal hearing earlier this year.

It’s great news for residents in Newgate Lane, Woodcote Lane and Albert Road who would have seen their semi-rural community more than double in size.

The effects on the community, impact on the countryside, and safety at the junction of the old and new Newgate Lane were the main objections cited by the Inspector.

You can see his judgment here.

His comments substantially echo the points we and local residents made at the hearing (see “Newgate Lane – a Sense of Place” below.

Airport update

Here is the latest newsletter from Solent Airport management – sadly, the popular Spitfires will be elsewhere until the autumn.

They also report that the CAA has investigated noise complaint and found no rule breaches – though it would have been good to have a link to the actual report.

See the newsletter here.

A leafier lane?

A resident in Burnt House Lane points out that it’s one of the few streets in Stubbington with a wide grass verge, yet no roadside trees.

With the Council pledged to plant more trees as part of its strategy to combat the Climate Emergency, that seems a good place to start.

And we’ve commented in the past that the wide, open nature of Burnt House Lane offers subconscious encouragement to drivers to put their foot down on what is a significant commuter shortcut.

Trees would have the effect of diminishing that effect, without altering the pleasant open effect of front gardens which are free of fences and hedges.

We’ll consult other residents in Burnt House Lane to see if they would welcome some tree planting.

Your Crofton candidates

Liberal Democrats will be fighting every seat in Fareham in the Borough and County Council elections on May 6. Your local candidates are:

Fareham Borough Council

Hill HeadStubbington
David Hamilton

Jimmy Roberts

David Hamilton has lived in Fareham since 2015. He has a career in insurance, and his wife runs a small business locally. David and Karen have two children of school age.

Jimmy Roberts is a local businessman well known within the community. Jimmy is actively working to raise local priorities and resist central government edicts that would further weaken the local environment.

Hampshire County Council

Fareham Crofton

Jimmy Roberts is also our Candidate for the Fareham Crofton County Council division, which includes Stubbington, Hill Head, and part of Fareham West. Jimmy works closely with David Hamilton and Councillor Jim Forrest on the Crofton Focus team.

Jimmy, David and Jim … working all year round for Stubbington and Hill Head

Police Commissioner

Richard Murphy is Lib Dem candidate to be Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

See the full list of Lib Dem candidates, contesting every seat in Fareham in the Borough, County and Police Commissioner elections.

Plan for safer crossings

Hampshire County Council is considering possible changes to the junctions and roundabouts in the village to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, and to encourage through traffic to use the Stubbington bypass.

Stubbington councillors and the County Councillor took part in an initial consultation with officers, and there will be a public consultation in the summer.

The work will not start until after the by-pass is open, so probably early in 2022.

It would be confined to making crossings safer at the junctions of Gosport Road/Stubbington Lane, Gosport Road/Burnt House Lane, and Gosport Road/TitchfieldRoad/Mays Lane, and measures to discourage traffic through the village from other areas..

Suggested changes to village car parks which were in an early leaked draft have been shelved. Some were clearly inpractical and councillors emphasised the importance of good parking provision to the viability of the shopping centre.

Newgate Lane – a sense of place

Jim Forrest attended all of the fortnight-long hearing into appeals by Fareham Land LP, over plans to build 190 homes on land at Newgate Lane.

His Statement to the Inspector, opposing the development, was quoted extensively in the summing up by the barrister acting for Fareham Council.

Jim said: I am a Fareham Borough Councillor reperesenting the Stubbington ward, which contains the Peel Common community of Newgate Lane, Woodcote Lane and Albert Road. I am also the Liberal Democrat spokesman on Planning and Development on Fareham Borough Council. Though that is an opposition role, I supported Fareham’s Publication Local Plan when it was considered at the Full Council meeting on October 22, 2020.

Jim Forrest and Jimmy Roberts at the threatened farmland

I believe either or both of these two developments would have serious implications both for my constituents in Stubbington, and for the borough as a whole.

As a Fareham councillor, my greatest concern is to see protection for the Strategic Gap which prevents Fareham’s distinctive communities from merging, and prevents those in turn from merging with the Gosport urban area. I note that the Statement of Common Ground refers to the proposed sites as being “directly adjacent” to the Fareham/Stubbington Strategic Gap. (Paragraph 5.7 in each case). However, the Policies Map attached as Appendix B to Fareham’s Publication Local Plan shows the Strategic Gap as extending beyond Newgate Lane East to the Gosport borough boundary.

As well as the core benefit of physical separation of settlements, recent rulings concerning other parts of that strategic gap have focussed on the concept of “valued landscape”. While I note that the Statement of Common Ground (para graph 5.6 in each case) suggests that Peel Common is not a valued landscape for the purposes of paragraph 170 of the NPPF, it is certainly valued by residents there and in the wider Fareham and Gosporft communities.

Peel Common has recently been given added value. Over many decades Newgate Lane had been degraded from a quiet country road to a major route between Stubbington, Lee and western Gosport and the employment and retail areas of Fareham, choked with traffic at all times of day.

Since the construction of Newgate Lane East, a more welcomimg vista has been opened up for travellers along that route: Tree-lined paddocks, a sensitively restored farmhouse, traditional brick houses, and some cottages going back to Victorian times and beyond. Though the landscape includes the major infrastructure of Southern Water’s treatment plant, the experience of that site for residents and travellers is of the wooded bund around it, which is a haven for many species including deer and buzzards. The development proposed here would more than triple the population in the immediate vicinity of that haven.

The value of the Peel Common landscape, and the views beyond it stretching twoards Titchfield, also includes the sense of place it offers.Travellers between Fareham and Stubbington or Lee leave behind an urban landscape at HMS Collingwood and the Speedfields retail park. They pass through countryside surrounding a largely unspoiled hamlet, before returning to an urban fringe landscape at Solent Airport.

This part of the Strategic Gap, as well as being an area to enjoy in leisure times, gives residents on either side of it a real sense of their distinct communities. A modern estate set down in the heart of it would damage it irreparably.

As a ward councillor I’d be bitterly disappointed to see my constituents in Peel Common lose the peace they have only just regained.

Residents in Newgate Lane, Albert Road and Woodcote Lane endured decades of non-stop queues of traffic on their doorsteps.

The creation of Newgate Lane East brought respite, restoring Peel Common as a cul de sac where residents no longer needed to fear constantly for their children’s safety.

Peel Common is effectively a hamlet once more, with just over 80 households on the voters roll. The addition of 190 households would mean hundreds of cars once more disgorging onto Newgate Lane. And it would triple the pressure on the difficult exit to Newgate Lane east, across a 40mph traffic flow.

It would also have an impact on residents in my ward and in the neighbouring Gosport wards who cycle regularly into Fareham. The Newgate Lane cul de sac now offers them a safe route with minimal vehicle traffic, where before they had to share a narrow road with heavy commercial and commuter traffic. The additional vehicle traffic from 190 extra households can be easily imagined.

I appreciate there has been reconsideration of Housing Supply by HMG since these applications were considered by Fareham’s Planning Committee.

But the projections of housing need we are now working on were drawn up before the Covid pandemic. It will be many months, perhaps years before the results of the economic upheaval can be assessed. Employment and retail patterns, incomes, transport usage are all likely to be altered and may lead to further re-estimates of housing need..

And even without such a re-assessment, I do not believe there is a need which justifies a fundamental alteration of the character of Peel Common..