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 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..

Oakcroft Lane saved again

Persimmons’ latest plans for 206 homes at Oakcroft Lane in the Strategic Gap were refused by 6-3 at Fareham’s Planning Committee.

A big thankyou to the many residents who joined Jim Forrest and other councillors in expressing our community’s opposition to the plans.

The developers had reduced their original proposal of 260 homes, and made some concessions on house design and landscaping.

The Focus Team on an earlier visit tothe Oakcroft Lane site

But the committee ruled that it was still unacceptable development in the countryside which would damage the Strategic Gap.

You can see Jim Forrests’ presentation to the committee here.

Jim says: “Persimmon will probably appeal, so we still have a fight on our hands to preserve the landscape we value so dearly.”

Proposals for up to 16 houses on and beside the former site of The Grange on the other side of Crofton cemetery were accepted at the same meeting..

While this development is also in the countryside, it should give improved views of St Edmunds Church (Crofton Old Church), improve safety for walkers in Ranvilles Lane, and the ugly leylandii hedge is to be replaced with trees and shrubs more in keeping with the area.

Confusion over village plan

There’s been a lot of speculation on Facebook recently over a supposed “plan” for alterations to the traffic layout in Stubbington Green.

Jim Forrest writes: It’s true to say that Hampshire County Council are working on proposals to take advantage of Government funding for improvements to walking and cycling access to the shopping centre, in response to the additional pressures caused by queuing during the pandemic.

But it’s well short of being a firm plan.

To support the bid for funding last autumn, Hampshire officers submitted a draft plan which was part of an earlier study of possible “active travel” options. (This was shown to one of Fareham’s senior planning officers, who shared it with the Stubbington borough councillors.)

I have discussed that document with the County Councillor for Crofton, and asked County officers to inform the local councillors and start consultation with residents as soon as they have firm proposals to put forward.

Some of the ideas floated might be helpful; some might not; some would be unlikely to be affordable within the budget of the Government funding.

The clumsy way in which incomplete proposals have been leaked has led to unnecessary alarm and speculation about ideas which may never be taken any further, and I have no intention of feeding that rumour mill.

Your local councillors are well aware of the needs of residents: The pressures on parking space for those who need to visit the village by car and those who deliver to our invaluable local shops; the value of local bus services for those who can’t visit by car; and the dangers to pedestrians, wheelchair users and cyclists posed by inconsiderate parking and driving.

When a proper consultation starts, we’ll work with residents as always to keep the balance between these needs. And we’ll do our best to inform the planners, based on the day-to-day experience of Stubbington and Hiill Head people..

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.

Blooming well done

The open space at Puffin Crescent is looking a lot brighter, thanks to local residents and business.

Allan Priestley asked Councillor Jim Forrest if residents could plant flowers at the edge of the green, which was being ploughed up by cars parking or turning.

Jim put them in touch with Fareham Council’s gardens chief, the idea was approved, and Allan went to work with neighbour Graeme Sign, helped by a donation of plants from The Fruit Basket in Stubbington Green.

Allan, left, and Graeme show the finished flowerbed

Jim Forrest says: “Well done Graeme, Allan and The Fruit Basket. We’re really lucky in Stubbington to have so many people prepared to dig in and keep our vilage beautiful.”

A word of thanks to our sponsors…

Preserving our wildlife

Bob Seymour and Jimmy Roberts explore concerns about the over-exploitation of the shellfish on the Solent shore.Click on the image to view video.

Since 2010 the Solent fishery has been declassified for commercial activity because water quality has been considered unsafe. 
From 2014 the native oyster fishery for the whole of the Solent was closed because of the collapse in the population.


Many of us in the area will have enjoyed collecting a few Cockles for our families.
 But it’s a totally different vision to see large numbers of people go out on the shingle with large bags and buckets and sweep the area clean of everything that is alive.


Police believe some of the people involved may be controlled by gang-masters in a version of modern day slavery. We’d clearly wish to stamp out such inhuman exploitation.


Some legislation already exists to help prevent over-exploitation of the food source, through the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations of 2006.


But what is really required is a long term strategy to protect the resource this sea-life represents. 
Seabird numbers are in decline, largely because of a noticeable reduction in food supply.


One way to halt that decline might be some form of ban on shellfish and bait digging along our foreshore between the Hamble river and Lee beach. 


Closed seasons, between March 1 and October 31, already exist for shellfish in the Portsmouth area.
 A Special Nature Conservation order has been in place for many years in Fareham creek prohibiting commercial bait digging.


Crofton Lib Dems are studying what measures might be possible and we’ll report back.