"We were not consulted enough over 175 homes"

MORE debate and consultation is needed on a scheme to build 175 homes in Ringwood, claims a resident.

Gillian Milne of Hightown says publicity over Linden Homes’ application to build homes, a pub or hotel, a fitness centre and a nursing home on fields west of Crow Lane and next to Crow Arch Lane, has not been extensive enough.

She said: “Linden Homes undertook to canvass opinion in 600 homes in the area prior to any planning application. It would be interesting to know which 600 homes.

“The only notice of planning application was stuck on a telegraph post in the least-used lane bordering the greenfield site – it has now been moved to a slightly more prominent position.

“As for finding any details online, you need to be very computer literate to track down the relevant information. Surely such a large and complex undertaking should involve considerable debate and consultation? This patently has not taken place. We need to be consulted and people’s opinions listened to in an intelligent, grown-up manner. That is true democracy.”

The scheme has sparked a campaign, backed by hundreds of residents who claimed the roads surrounding the site are inadequate, drainage is poor and there is a high risk of flooding.

They also say facilities such as doctor’s surgeries and schools are already oversubscribed.

Mrs Milne said: “Most people are in favour of some development on this site, but not such an extensive one. People want Ringwood homes for Ringwood people.

“It is felt that any social housing should be within a flexible, shared equity scheme aimed at retaining hard-working young families within the Ringwood area. They are the town’s future.

“There have been months of debate and controversy following the serious accidents on the A31 and it is a fact that if the scheme were approved, hundreds more cars would be joining the A31 at the local short, dangerous slip road.”

At a Ringwood Town Council meeting, mayor Steve Rippon-Swaine told members there had been no significant house building in the town for 20 years.

He said: “Houses are needed to enable the next generation to be able to live in the town.

“The population has only grown by 300 in ten years and has not kept pace with national growth. Therefore, the spending ability of the population has reduced, which may have had an impact on the decline of the town centre.”

He added that affordable housing would not be available exclusively for Ringwood residents as this was against government policy.

Richard Ayre, Linden Homes’ strategic land and planning director, said: “The site has been through an extensive consultation process, both as part of New Forest District Council’s Local Plan consultation and Linden Homes’ own public consultation.

“This has included several periods of consultation since 2011 on the new Local Plan and two public consultations held by Linden Homes, one in 2012 and one in 2013, each of which attracted more than 100 people.

“The public consultation we have undertaken has resulted in several key principles being incorporated into the masterplan from the feedback received, including a limit on building heights and proposing employment uses that will ensure HGVs do not need to access the site.”

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