Councillors reluctantly approve 32 new homes

DEVELOPERS must be penalised for slow building which causes councils to miss their housing targets.

That’s the view of Test Valley councillor, Alan Dowden, who claims the planning control commitee had no choice but to approve 32 new houses adjoining the new 800-home Abbotswood development last week.

“I have sympathy with Romsey Extra Parish Council, which opposed the application,” said Mr Dowden. “Nobody wanted to approve it, but we had no choice because of a shortfall in land available for housing.

“We’ve only got about four years land supply. If we refused it and the applicant appealed against the decision and won, Test Valley taxpayers would have had to pick up the bill.”

He says developers are taking advantage of the fact that TVBC does not have an adopted plan governing future housing numbers.

The Lib Dem claims developers hold off from building once they gain planning permission, resulting in a shortfall of new homes and TVBC falling short of government targets.

“We need an adopted local plan, so we are not vulnerable should we turn an application down. If we had one in place, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. The developers have got us over a barrel at the moment,” said Mr Dowden.

He said developers who did not build houses within a specified time should be penalised.

Applicant, David Wilson Homes, say they hope to start building the 32 homes close to the former gravel pit in Sandy Lane, at Belbins, this summer. The development, on former garden and paddock land, will sit between Abbotswood and the borough council’s new dustcart depot at Bourne House.

Julian Jones, development director at David Wilson Homes, said: “We’ve been working on this development with Test Valley Borough Council for 18 months.

“We did a public exhibition last February and we had good feedback from the public on the plans. What is proposed follows the emerging Core Strategy. Test Valley has a shortage of housing land supply. There is a massive waiting list for affordable homes in southern Test Valley and this will help alleviate it because there are 12 affordable homes which included rented and shared ownership. We hope to start building in May or June.”

The development will be made up of seven five bedroom, 14 four-bedroom, six three bedroom, four two-bedroom, and one single-bedroom home.

Among the objectors to the scheme were Romsey Ramblers who called it an “invasion of the green lung of Romsey”.

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