It seems it won’t be long before the New Forest District Council and National Park Authority will be receiving a planning application involving the part demolition of the former power station building and development of the area around it, significantly for about 1500 new residential properties.*
I hesitate to call the proposed buildings “homes” because the reality might be that the properties might simply be purchased as investments. Perhaps second homes, at best. It’s easy to imagine housing in that location to be very attractive to wealthy people who live elsewhere rather than becoming affordable homes for local people to purchase.
I am keeping an open mind until I see the detail of the development. I will be much more likely to support a scheme that provides housing for local people.
Already two former planning chiefs have expressed reservations about the proposed scheme. It seems that there may not be a need for the applicants to carry out a full environmental impact assessment.
It would seem to me entirely sensible for there to be a full environmental impact assessment (whether or not this is a legal requirement). From a planning point of view, I would want to understand all of the impacts and potential impacts to the local environment. There will be some significant ones.
Knowing about significant environmental impacts would not necessarily mean I would vote against a scheme. You have to take a wider view. If this development did not take place, then government house building targets compel the local authorities to accept housing development elsewhere (perhaps with even more significant environmental impacts).
It will be interesting to see what the final plans are for improving transport links to the site. Complete reliance on car journeys along an already strained A326 would not, in my view, be acceptable.
A development of this scale strengthens the case for a Waterside passenger rail service to be reinstated.