MORE than 100 people turned up at Ringwood Town Council’s planning meeting to raise objections to parts of a scheme that could see 175 houses, a pub, hotel and nursery built on fields in the town.
Inadequate roads, poor drainage and flooding were just some of the concerns over the Linden Homes plan to develop 150,000 square metres of land west of Crow Lane and next to Crow Arch Lane.
The public participation period at the council’s planning meeting was extended to allow residents to voice their fears about the impact of the scheme on the town, particularly on schools and doctor surgeries which, they say, are full.
However, if the scheme goes ahead, Ringwood Town Council and New Forest District Council will net £1.5m from the New Homes Bonus for the area.
Jeremy Bradshaw, chairman of campaign group A Better Ringwood, has commissioned an independent traffic report on the impact the scheme could have on congestion, pedestrian safety and flooding. He claims the Transport Assessment fails to address the knock-on effects of increased traffic on other roads.
Former New Forest district councillor Chris Treleaven said he feared the hoped-for affordable housing quota of 50 per cent would be reduced once development costs were known.
Greg Hilton argued there were too many flats and small houses earmarked for the affordable housing quota and that they would be concentrated in one area. Max Preece showed photographs of recent flooding at Crow and Eastfield Lanes and said a strategy was needed to eradicate the problem.
Hampshire County Council and Linden Homes planning consultant Bob Selwood said the Highways Authority had requested further work on the transport assessment but insisted the existing network would be able to absorb new traffic. He also said the flood risk assessment stated that excess water could be dealt with on-site.
The benefits for Ringwood include open space, allotments and much needed affordable housing.
Committee chairman Sophie Burgess-Kennar said: “Clearly there are some serious issues that need to be addressed.”
New Forest District Council’s head of planning and transport Chris Elliott said the council wanted to buy 40 of the homes for people on the council house waiting list, adding: “It is likely that Ringwood applicants would in reality be successful in obtaining a property.”
He said while a developer could not be legally required to remedy traffic or flooding problems, the onus was on them “not to make matters worse”.
Mr Elliott agreed that further work was needed and therefore it was unlikely that the application would be considered before March. Members of the council recommended that permission be granted to the application subject to conditions.