|A view of new housing development at Dowd's Farm|
But the Lib Dems are guilty of presenting a false dilemma. The choice is not between their plan and no plan. The choice is between a bad plan and a better plan.
What makes the current proposals a bad plan is the inexplicable u-turn executed by the Lib Dems in adopting a small number of large scale "strategic development options" when they have campaigned against Strategic Development Areas and Major Development Areas in the past.
The impact of new housing on the existing infrastructure (roads, services, schools etc.) would be less invasive if the the new developments were spread more evenly throughout the borough instead of being concentrated in three locations. It would also give existing communities and settlements the chance to grow organically without fundamentally changing their character, a fate which is possibly awaiting Boorley Green.
Let us accept for the moment the Council's target of 9,400 new houses and their assessment that 4,700 of these will have to be built on countryside locations.
They could reach their target by assigning 1,200 of the green field houses to sites near the urban centre of Eastleigh Town and Chandlers Ford and then distributing the remainder evenly throughout the nine southern parishes at the rate of about 400 per parish.
They could then engage in a more meaningful consultation in each parish allowing the local people to rank the identified locations in order of preference. People in Hedge End might still vote in favour of building on the farmland at Woodhouse Lane, or they might prefer one of the other sites identified by the planners. If the first choice does not have sufficient capacity to accommodate the 400 target houses, then the second or third choice locations would be added to the list until the required capacity is reached.
It might mean more work for the planners and a harder time for the developers, but it would be fairer and more democratic for the people of Hedge End.