ATTLELINES are being drawn in a bid to stop more green fields in Rownhams being swallowed up by houses.
Villagers are up in arms after plans to build 140 homes at Fields Farm, until recently owned by Barker-Mill Estates, were announced. It follows closely in the wake of another scheme to build 320 houses on a neighbouring piece of land. A Government planning inspector is currently deciding whether that development at Parkers Farm should go ahead.
Developer Pigeon Investment Management Limited (PIML) is behind the latest application on 21acres of farmland next to the junction of Rownhams Lane and Bakers Drove, which is bounded by a site of importance for nature conservation to the south and east. A public exhibition on the proposals was held in Rownhams last month.
Besides the homes, PIML’s scheme includes community orchard, a play area, new public footpaths and open space.
PIML says claims that there are “many people” in the local area who want to get onto the housing ladder but can’t afford to buy their own home and the proposed development will help them do it.
It also says the scheme will help elderly people in Rownhams who want to down size homes and remain in the village.
PIML also points out that Test Valley Borough Council is unable to demonstrate it has sufficient land supply to meet housing needs during the next five years.
“The council can only demonstrate a 4.45 year housing supply for southern Test Valley which falls below the 5.25 year supply required by the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework. We have undertaken our own evaluation and believe the shortfall is in reality much greater. We believe that Fields Farm can help deliver this shortfall of new homes,” claims PIML, which promotes land for development across the South East. However, some villagers take a different view.
Tony Seaton who was involved in the “Say No to Parkers Farm” campaign, said that where landowners had been given permission to build but hadn’t gone ahead with the homes, it was creating land supply problems.
“That’s part of the problem, seven years of planning permissions have been granted but the land has been put in the land bank creating a land supply shortage and requests to build on good farming land like Field Farm which is grade 3A and 3B agricultural land,” said Mr Seaton.
He added that there was great deal of anger in the village last April when trees on the site were cut down to create an access road.
He claimed the work was done without a forestry permit or planning permission.
Nursling and Rownhams Parish Council has serious concerns about the growing number of proposed housing developments coming forward.
The authority fears Nursling and Rownhams will become a suburb of Southampton if a limit is not put on the number of homes in the village.
Parish Clerk Bill Ashdown said: “The parish council is concerned about the village losing its identity. These developments could produce gridlock on our roads and increase accidents and it would also put pressure on our schools and the community as a whole.”
Like Mr Seaton, Mr Ashdown also criticised developers who had been given planning permission to build new homes but had not done so.
“If National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) figures included agreed developments but not yet built, this continued bombardment of planning applications might reduce.
“If the houses in Redbridge Lane (350 homes approved by a Government planning inspector following an appeal by Barker Mill Estates) had been built the need for housing within Nursling and Rownhams would have been removed,” concluded Mr Ashdown.