|Do Councillors Read All the Reports They Commission?|
Readers of this blog will need no reminding that Eastleigh Lib Dems are planning to build over 3,500 houses in Hedge End and Botley, many of them on green fields - despite their repeated election promise to "stand up against more building and traffic". The Draft Local Plan - which went out to consultation last year - attracted massive opposition from local residents and also from Hampshire County Council who, as the Highway Authority, are refusing to endorse the Borough's plan for a Botley by-pass which is shown following the route of Woodhouse Lane through the Maypole roundabout to the M27 - although planners say that the map is not definitive and the route might change.
The Highway Authority also estimates that the by-pass will cost £30 million and that even with the large-scale development threatened on Hedge End and Botley's green fields it will not be possible to raise enough contributions to pay for it.
Eastleigh Lib Dems, led by Hedge End Town Councillor Keith House, are refusing to accept the judgement of the highway experts at Hampshire and are planning to engage their own consultants to generate evidence in favour of their own policies.
Incredibly it is only two years since PUSH (the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire) published a consultant's study which concluded that the planned development at that time (which was for even more houses - 6,000 to the north and north east of Hedge End) did not justify a Botley by-pass (see below). Has Cllr House forgotten this already? Will he keep paying for consultants and studies until he gets the answer he wants?
Financially it is a lose-lose for Hedge End council tax payers who already pay for one set of highway experts at the County, have payed for one study only two years ago, and now will be paying for yet another set of experts to be employed by the Borough.
Build Houses First and Upgrade Roads Later
The same cabinet paper proposes amendments to the Draft Local Plan which would remove the requirement for the road improvements to be completed before the houses are built. In theory there could be thousands of new houses on our green fields with all the new residents trying to get to the motorway on our existing roads - which are already overcrowded.
The Lib Dems' cherished plans are rapidly degenerating into a shambles.
The Cost of Party Politics
With County Council elections less than a year away, this is not the only example of party politics costing you more. Hampshire Conservatives want to include the disused airfield in Hamble in their plans for gravel extraction. Eastleigh Lib Dems don't want that to happen and are going to spend over £8,000 on even more consultants to justify their position.
Footnote: Extract from July 2010 PUSH report
4.8.19 Provision of a Botley bypass has mixed support locally but has a
safeguarded route to the north of the village. TfSH conclude that a bypass
cannot be justified by forecast development traffic alone and although there
may be other justifications for a bypass, it is not included in the preferred
access strategy. Local noise and air quality in Botley could however be
improved, and a bypass offers scope for environmental improvements to
the village and conservation area. Costs would be significant. If a bypass
is proposed in any future transport strategy, any route would require some
third party land and safeguarding as part of masterplanning for the SDA.
Photo credit: Pizarros