Loperwood Public Inquiry
I attended the Public Inquiry this morning, held at Lymington.
I told the Planning Inspector that I was objecting to the development of the field at Loperwood, not because I am opposed to housing, but because it would be wrong to permit development on land currently designated as countryside in our present Local Plan.
I argued that it was generally much better to allow time for the New Forest District Council to complete its’ revised Local Plan, in order that new housing development can be developed in a planned way with all the necessary infrastructure that will be needed to accommodate it.
I made the further point that if the Inspector was minded to allow the appeal and permit building, it would serve as a “green Light” for other developers to submit further applications on other parts of the countryside nearby and thus we will get lots of housing, built on a piecemeal basis, with no overall strategic plan in place.
An Officer from New Forest District Council confirmed that the authority was withdrawing their objection, even though the application was “against policy”.
Unfortunately, the conservative run Council is in a position of weakness, reluctant to spend any money arguing the case to defend the planning decision to object.
Furthermore, it emerged that the authority had slipped in its proposed timescales for agreeing a revised local plan.
This is again due to cut backs, making staff redundant and not replacing the ones who have left.
I have made the point before that there are always consequences in managing an authority down into a declining service.
Reducing back room staff isn’t noticed immediately but it has as much impact, whether failing to get a robust Local Plan in place, or successfully challenging planning appeals.
I am not at all hopeful that the Inspector will accept my arguments, given the position of the District Council.
At least it will mean some much needed homes being built.
I am just fearful that it might mean an avalanche of similar applications on other parts of the countryside that we will no longer be able to object to.
I think most people would agree we need more housing for local people, but recognise that it is much better for this to be done in a strategic, planned, manner than a developer free-for-all.
It was a one day Inquiry, with a decision to be announced later.
Those who “like” my page will probably be the first to know the outcome.
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I am sorry about the length of this post but these essential works are going to cause a lot of disruption and it is a good idea to avoid travelling at these times if you can.