Saturday, 29 April 2017

Eastleigh residents plan legal challenge to homes

Local residents are to fight the decision to allow a controversial housing development, which has split the coalition ahead of next week’s Eastleigh by-election.

Botley Parish Council will seek a judicial review of Eastleigh Council’s approval of the 1,400 home scheme which received outline planning permission on Monday night. The development is expected to include around 500 affordable homes.

Eight parish councillors voted unanimously for the legal challenge at an emergency meeting on Tuesday night. ‘It’s in train,’ Colin Mercer, parish council chair, said of the planned legal challenge.

Echoing neighbourhood campaigners who argue that local infrastructure will fail to cope with the new homes, due to be built over the next 10 to 12 years on the outskirts of picturesque Botley in Hampshire, he said: ‘It’s just a case of them plonking them in the wrong place, for want of a better word.’

Anne Winstanley, cabinet member for housing at Liberal Democrat-led Eastleigh Council, said: ‘Wherever you consider [new] housing there’s always opposition from those who live nearby, but as councillors we have to look at the benefit for the overall population.’

On Wednesday, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the scheme, to be built on a 180-acre green field site, was needed ‘for hard working families in Eastleigh to live in’.

But Maria Hutchings, the Conservative candidate for the seat vacated by disgraced Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, slammed the homes. ‘We must fight these plans,’ she said.

A Botley resident, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘I would support the judicial review, you’ve got to try and stand your ground. I think we’ve had enough development around here.’

Mr Mercer estimated that local residents would need to raise ‘something of the order of £50,000’ to fund its legal challenge. ‘It’s a significant sum of money, but it’s a case of the borough has left us with no alternative.’

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