Plans for 300 homes at woodland site

WOODLAND providing an important green gap between two Test Valley communities is under renewed threat from development.

Taylor Wimpey is behind plans to build 300 homes at Great Covert, off Castle Lane, North Baddesley and it has already sparked uproar.

Test Valley councillor, Alan Dowden, believes that if the authority had an adopted long-term planning blueprint for the area, developers wouldn’t be queuing up, as they are, with schemes to build homes on greenfields and woodland across the area.

An angry Mr Dowden added: “All this has come about because developers are taking advantage of Test Valley Borough Council’s inability to have gained an adopted revised local plan. Elsewhere in southern Test Valley is vulnerable for housing applications.

“It is about time the Government allowed local planning authorities time for such sustainable plans to be adopted through the inspectorate process and stop developers running roughshod through the process.” This latest proposal comes three years after a developer scrapped plans to build a 1,000 home mini village with a school, pub, hotel and a health centre on woodland at Great Covert Copse.

The proposed site lies on Valley Park’s doorstep and Mr Dowden who is the parish council chairman said the grass roots authority would debate the plans next month.

“The public have shown that they strongly support that Local Gap policy. It will be in my view, that this proposal will be strongly objected to if an application were to come forward later and the objections for further development would be made on legitimate grounds,” concluded Mr Dowden.

Taylor Wimpey claims its plans will enhance the area, improve public access to the woodland which is largely commercial, and also provide a sustainable extension to Valley Park. Few trees will be felled to make way for the new housing which will be built on land where trees have already been felled commercially.

The plans will be on show during a public exhibition at North Baddesley Sports Pavilion next Wednesday (June 18) between 3pm and 8pm.

Strategic projects manager with Taylor Wimpey, Lynn McIver, said: “This is a great chance for members of the local community to get involved and help us shape the development plans for their area before we submit our planning application for the Great Covert site.

“This scheme represents an exciting opportunity to enhance the ancient woodland within the site, making it more accessible so local people have the chance to benefit from this fantastic natural asset right on their doorstep.”

Under Taylor Wimpey’s plans, the proposed development will be built on the eastern edge of the site. The company says this is to preserve woodland to the west and safeguard the local gap.

About 40 per cent of the proposed homes will be in the affordable category and will include shared ownership and rented accommodation.

Also included in the proposals are new pedestrian and cycle links to North Baddesley village centre and Valley Park. Taylor Wimpey says that the proposed site covers 80 hectares, but only 12 of these are earmarked for new housing.

Nearly 2,000 newsletters have been sent out to households in North Baddesley and the Valley Park areas alerting residents to the public exhibition.

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