…Two wheels better?

One consequence of the Coronavirus lockdown has been a big increase in both cycling and cycle sales.

For now, this is mostly for exercise, but as businesses and factories re-open, we can expect an increase in people cycling to work or school, either because they find they prefer it to the car for shortish journeys or because of limits on the capacity of trains and buses .

The Government has announced funding to make more safe cycling routes available, and many councils are already proceeding with plans. We hope Fareham in partnership with Hampshbire County Council will follow suit.

In the meantime, we request cyclists to respect the rights of other road users. Most people cycle safely and considerately, but a thoughtless minority don’t give pedestrians enough space to practice social distancing on pavements or share use pathways,, or fail to give warning of their approach.

No safe cycling option – a rutted track, a pedestrian promenade, or a busy, winding road

This can be a particular problem on the Salterns promenade in Hill Head, where Fareham Council has been unable to complete the gravel cycle track from Seafarers Sailing Club to Monks Hill because of land ownership issues.

Our photo (from archive, before social distancing) shows the rutted track cyclists have to use for the final stretch to avoid straying onto the footway – a sad feature on what is part of a nationally recognised cycle route.

Perhaps when the Stubbington bypass is complete the County Council should consider closing Salterns Road as a through route for vehicles, making it safe for cyclists. At present many drivers use it as a rat-run between Gosport and the A27, but if the bypass does the job it’s supposed to, there should be no need for that any more.

Taking vehicles off that road would also make it much safer for families walking to the beach through Seafield Park to cross Salterns Lane safely.

A treasure worth preserving

Bob Seymour of the Focus Team offers these thoughts on Hill Head life:

Our Hill Head community has much diversity in its combination of modern estate and earlier housing with the occasional architectural gem. It is bordered on two sides by outstanding natural features, the Titchfield Haven and the Solent.

We are really quite fortunate to benefit from these amenities but we must always be aware of the risks modern life presents. The few areas of green space that remain seem constantly under threat of further development.

The Solent has a nationally important range of natural life both on its fringes and beneath the waves. The Hampshire Wildlife Trust is running a four year project to raise awareness of just how precious and fragile this life is and how our 21st century way of living puts this living wonder at risk.

We still have too much polluted water draining into the Solent, especially with Nitrates from both agriculture and our very own community.
Over exploitation of the shellfish from both the shore and from our small fishing fleet also represents a risk to the long term survival of what we have left. Protective measures are both under consideration and in effect, most recently recognition of the importance of the Tern populations. These small seabirds with a nature similar to Swallows rely on the sanctuary of the Haven for breeding and the life in the Solent for food.

And of course the Solent is unrivalled for its sailing opportunities, with our two sailing clubs providing first class facilities and especially opportunities for all our youngsters to experience sailing alongside the world class boats seen at Cowes every year.
Our community is served well by roads, schools and the nearby commerce in the village of Stubbington. Threats are always present though; perhaps inappropriate traffic speed, overuse of minor roads, antisocial littering of fast food containers amongst them.
What can we do to protect our fortunate community? I would love to see:
* The Old Street fields gifted to the Titchfield Haven for perpetual protection;
* A height restriction placed on the Meon/Posbrook lane and more encouragement for traffic to not use this as a commute into and out of Gosport;
* More of our residential streets recognised as safer with encouragement to drivers to limit to 20 mph;
* Much more emphasis on supporting the conservation and protection initiatives in the Solent. – between 1940 and 1945 there was a ban on commercial fishing in the Solent and the sea life greatly prospered!

Gap in the argument

Most discussion af the CAT Meeting at Holy Rood Church on February 10 centred on the concept of a Strategic Growth Area – the circumstances and conditions under which housing might be permitted in the Strategic Gap between Stubbington and Fareham.
Briefly. Fareham is not proposing to allow building in the Strategic Gap to meet its share of regional housing targets set by the Government; but it might be required do do so if neighbouring councils can’t meet their shares.
But residents were given a misleading impression of the nature of the Strategic Gap itself, as proposed in Fareham Today, and the fuller Draft Local Plan Supplement 2020 which is available on the Council Website.
The Council Leader stated that no permissions for housing had been given in the Strategic Gap. But he failed to mention that the Gap described in the draft 2020 Local Plan is already smaller than that under the existing Local Plan, adopted in 2015.
In October 2017, Fareham’s Executive approved a a new draft plan, which moved the boundary of the Strategic Gap westwards, allowing the provision of up to 475 homes between the Borough boundary and the newly-built Newgate Lane South.

Crofton Lib Dems at the proposed Newgate Lane site

The draft should have been put to the Council for endorsement after a 6-week consultation period. But in November 2017 the Government consulted local councils on a new planning framework, altering the rules for provision of new housing.
Fareham’s draft plan was rendered out of date, so instead of adopting it, the December 2017 meeting of the Council adopted a Corporate Strategy including the preparation of a new local plan.
That preparation has been going on ever since, resulting in the 2020 Draft Plan which residents are now being consulted on.
So the proposed reduced Strategic Gap which we are now being asked to approve, is based on a draft plan which was never fully implemented.
Stubbington Councilllor Jim Forrest is having regular briefings from Council officers about the 2020 Draft Plan.
Jim says: “I’m determined to protect the Strategic Gap, which is vital to preserve the village character of Stubbington and Hill Head, and the country town character of Fareham as a whole.
“And I’ll assert that the proposed 475 homes alongside Newgate Lane should still be up for debate rather than treated as a done deal.”

Builders eye up Bypass site

Before work has even started on the Stubbington Bypass, the developers are circling…

Foreman Homes Ltd have asked Fareham Council for an Environmental Impact Assessment screening opinion ahead of a potential application to build 500+ homes on either side of the bypass at Titchfield Road.

(See P/20/0005/EA in this week’s list of planning and other applications.)

This is NOT a planning application, but it’s a request for information that developers often seek to assess their chances of getting permission to build.

Cllr Jim Forrest says: “When residents were campaigning for a by-pass a few years ago, I warned at a CAT meeting ‘Be careful what you wish for’.

I said that while reduction in through treafic would help households in Titchfield Road and Gosport Road in the short term, it carried the risk that builders would seize on the new road as an opportunity for infill development.

“This screening request is extremely worrying for Stubbington.”

Oakcroft Lane: 261-home scheme thrown out

Fareham’s Planning Committee has rejected Persimmon’s plans for 261 homes on land at Oakcroft Lane between Crofton Cemetery and Peak Lane.
Planning officers listed 21 detailed grounds for refusal, and Stubbington councillor Jim Forrest said in a submission to the committee: “This is inappropriate development which would lead to coalescence of settlements and degradation of design standards which FBC has striven to uphold.
“Not only would it be detrimental to the character of Stubbington, approval of this scheme ahead of adoption of a new Local Plan could be taken as a precedent for assault on those standards in other parts of the Borough”

Fence round open space rejected.

Applications to erect  two metre fences round part of the open space between Springfield Way, Dallington Close and Mulberry Avenue have now been rejected by planing officers.

(Details can be found on Fareham Council’s website, ref P/18/0864/LP and P/0866/LP.)

ButLib Dems have found that other green spaces could be under threat.

The green north of Springfield Way has been enjoyed by everyone for decades since the estate was built in the 1970s, but two sections  of the land were recently sold at auction.

Those sections, though listed as public open space in Fareham’s local plan, were never owned by Fareham Council.

Agents for the applicants said they wanted the fence to prevent vandalism, anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping, which would be to the detriment of the area.

Councillor Jim Forrest says: “I don’t recall any of these issues arising in this space in the 25 years I’ve lived in Hill Head. A fence would be of permanent detriment to the area, destroying the view and preventing lawful use.

“This explanation insults residents’ intelligence.”

Jim, who is Lib Dem spokesman on planning and development, adds: “This could have worrying implications for Fareham as a whole. I’ve made inquiries and found there are other sites around Fareham where land currently in use as open space is still in private hands.

“Residents should be entitled to a clear picture of whether land around them is public open space, or just permissive space which can be sold and closed off.

“I’ve put a question to the Council to ask how many such sites there are and what can be done to protect them.”

Builders challenge Old Street decision

Bargate Homes has appealed against Fareham Council’s refusal of 150 homes on land west of Old Street, near the nature reserve. Deadline for appeals to the Planning Inspectorate is June 15.

Planning appeals are decided by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, not Fareham Borough Council.
The Planning Inspectorate will hold a Public Inquiry to discuss the appeal. Residents who commented on the original application are able to attend – the date and venue will be announced later.

Jim Forrest and ALex Brims helped residents campaign against homes in the countryside gap

Previous comments about the application will be forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate. Residents can make further comments now, and all comments will be considered by the Planning Inspector assigned to this case.

You can view the appeal documents at http://www.fareham.gov.uk/casetrackerplanning using the application reference P/17/1451/OA.

If you wish to make comments on the appeal you must do so to the Planning Inspectorate by 15th June 2018.

You can comment online at https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk. Or you can write (quoting the appeal reference APP/A1720/W/18/3200409 and providing three copies of your comments) to:
The Planning Inspectorate
Room 3/O Kite Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol
BS1 6PN

Developers eye up more countryside

A company calling itself Fareham Land, part of the Pegasus Group,has published a proposal to build 200 homes on land between the old and new routes of Newgàte Lane, surrounding the historic Peel Farm house.
They say it would “provide a naturàl extension” to the 475-home community proposed east of the new road in Fareham Council’s Draft Local Plan.
They don’t mention that under the Draft Local Plan, the land west of the new road remains part of the strategic gap separating Stubbington frrom Fareham. Nor do they mention that the land on which Fareham Council is proposing to allow up to 475 homes under its revised plan is itself being sliced from the strategic gap as it was agreed under the original Local Plan in 2015. (Local Conservatives also neglected to mention that in their recent election literature).
Despite the company’s name, Fareham Land has nothing to do with Fareham Council. Their publicity mentions “pre-application discussions with the Council’s planning officers”, but that that doesn’t imply Council support – officers are obliged to have talks with anyone who proposes a development.

The company has not yet submitted any formal planning application. We’ll alert residents if they do, and we’ll publicise the timetable for residents’ comments.
The company is holding a public exhibition on Tuesday, May 22, 3-7pm at St Matthew’s Church, Wych Lane, PO13 0JN. Their website, with further details, is https://www.newgatelanepegasusgroup.co.uk/

House building numbers set locally not by Goverement

To say the housing numbers we have today is the sole fault of government is a gross exaggeration. The housing projections we have today never even went in front of all the members, simply a selective few.

While we wait for the Government to announce their final draft of the New National Planning Policy Framework, which will have to go before Parliament for approval and is expected to bring about crucial changes to future new housing projections here in Fareham, we should not lose sight of the fact, the present housing numbers now driving development in Fareham are not merely the fault of central government.

PUSH ( Partnership for Urban South Hampshire) is a partnership of the councils of: Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton, Isle of Wight, Eastleigh, East Hampshire, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, New Forest, Test Valley, and Winchester.

Old Street artist impression of housing development.

The assembly of Local council leaders, senior councillors and officers commissioned a number of studies to help them PUSH forward their plans for economic expansion.

Although the studies were prepared in line with the National Planning Policy Framework, to establish and distribute the objectively assessed needs for housing and economic growth over the long term period to 2034 across the PUSH area, PUSH gave a commitment that the final Housing objectively Assessed Housing Need figures would be consulted on through a public consultation.

Trying to find the link where they consulted US, the residents. Sadly there isn’t one, because we had no say.

That important consultation never materialised, it was effectively cancelled and the new housing numbers we see today that are driving the destruction of our greenfields were passed to each local authority for them to consult on through their revised Local Plan Reviews.

Artist Impression of the Ranvilles lane Planning application

The critical point is, although the likes of Fareham can demonstrate they have consulted through their Draft Local Plan review it is meaningless because the consultation is far too late in the planning process. The public does not have a chance of changing those figures at that stage, a fact which is well recognised.

So if you hear the words, it’s all the Government fault, please be mindful that is not the case. Local politicians across our region including Fareham played a role in the thousands in the housing figures we see today.

New houses being built in Daedalus