THE local plan has been blamed for making the “beautiful and quintessential” nature of Fordingbridge “rapidly disappear”, as a bid to build a new estate moved forward.

Three areas of the town have been designated for development in New Forest District Council’s Local Plan, which has now been adopted.

The district council’s planning committee last week agreed to give delegated authority to the chief planning officer to grant permission for Metis Home Ltd’s 63-home development at Burgate Acres, Salisbury Road, subject to a section 106 legal agreement and 24 conditions being met.

Councillor Arthur Davis said the district was “desperate” for housing which was “much more difficult in the lovely countryside locations” but said the site had been allocated for development in the local plan.

“It is as good as you are going to get without cancelling the whole development," he added.

Amendments to the proposal

Since the application was submitted there have been amendments to the design and layout, and a reduction in the number of homes from 74 to 63.

To address concerns over the close proximity to Fordingbridge Day Nursery the homes have been moved and a large area of open space added, creating a “significant gap”.

Alistair Harris, of Metis Homes, said the amendments to the site had “enable larger and new areas of public space to be created” and greater levels of landscaping and separation of the new homes from retained trees and sensitive boundaries.

He said the concerns of the day nursery had been addressed through the creation of a new public space which the new homes front onto, which he said created a “significant gap” and no windows facing in its direction.

Councillor Annie Bellows said the plan now was “much improved” and “acceptable” and proposed the council approve the officer’s recommendations.

But while Councillor Maureen Holding agreed the plan was a “great improvement” and the lower number of homes was “more acceptable”, she added: “We are having to face the fact that the beautiful, quintessential village we had of Fordingbridge is rapidly disappearing and this is because of the local plan."

Speaking about the local plan, she said: "We had absolutely no options because if it wasn’t done we would have had something worse imposed on us. I do feel for local people.”

Concerns were raised during the meeting about the impact on existing properties.

She added: “From a conservation point of view, we have ruined the setting of those wonderful thatched buildings.”

The site

The site is made up of four parcels of land, including an area previously owned by Burgate School. This is now under the ownership of the developers and the land was subject to a covenant preventing any buildings on it.

It is also part of a larger area of land identified as Strategic Site 18 within the local plan. The two other strategic sites within the town are Station Road, Ashford (Site 16) and Whitsbury Road (Site 17). The three sites are expected to deliver a minimum of 870 houses.

Affordable housing

Due to the reduction in the number of housing the affordable housing offer was now 22 per cent below the council’s policy requirement of 50 per cent.

However, councillors were told this had been “robustly checked” by the council’s own assessor and was deemed a “reasonable” scheme.

Councillor Anne Sevier was sad to lose some of this housing, which she said was needed in the town.

Highways concerns

Concerns had been raised over highways issues but the meeting heard Highways had not objected to the plans, subject to conditions and work being completed.

Planning officer Stephen Beli said concerns had been raised over highways, including by the town council, but these concerns had been “allayed” and there was “no evidence to suggest that the application will not be safe in terms of its access”.

Vehicle access will be created from a new junction onto the A338 Salisbury Road into the Burgate Acres parcel adjacent to Burgate School.

There will also be a school drop-off point.

Sewerage and footpath upgrades

A new sewerage would be installed, as well as footpath upgrades, the meeting heard.

Councillor Ann Sevier said drainage and sewerage remained a "big concern" for the town and she was pushing for a sewerage system that was “fit for purpose” and would “not give up on that”.

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