Guarding our shops

Councillor Jim Forrest persuaded Fareham Council to alter Stubbington’s retail status from its previous “Local Centre” to “District Centre” in the debate on the Draft of the Publication Local Plan on October 22.

We won’t see any changes to the village as a result of the change in definition – and that’s precisely why we asked for it.

Jim says: “My aim was to give Stubbington increased protection under the section “Strategic Policy R1” in the draft plan, which says: ‘Any development that would significantly harm the vitality and viability of a defined centre or small parade will not be permitted’.

“The definition of District Centres includes providing ‘…day to day food and grocery shopping facilities…’. The definition of Local Centres does not.

“Stubbington’s shops are the main suppliers of daily needs for many hundreds of people. We saw that spectacularly demonstrated during lockdown, when our local shops stepped up their game, and gave a lifeline to people who could not travel to the big supermarkets, or access their online delivery services.

“I wanted to help protect the future of our local shops against possible developments which might threaten them, by tightening the criteria against which councillors or planning inspectors will measure planning applications.”

Jim’s motion was carried unanimously at the Council meeting, meaning it was supported by all parties and by all the Stubbington and Hill Head councillors.

But Jim Forrest points out: “It remains a proposal, not a done deal, until residents have had their say.

“A public consultation on the Local Plan opens on November 6. Please watch for the edition of Fareham Today which you’ll be getting shortly, and follow the explanatory material about how to comment when it goes on the Council’s website.

“It’s not a simple process, it’s a huge, detailed file of documents, but if you want your views heard by the Government inspector who will rule on the plan, it’s worth taking the time.

“And in the meantime, if you want our shopping centre to thrive, vote with your feet, shop local, and let’s live up to the title of our local traders’ and community group:

Love Stubbington.