Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Late Night Pizzas Latest

Southampton City Council to Decide 
Following my report last week about Domino's Pizzas plans to stay open into the early hours of the morning seven days a week, all Hedge End town councillors have been advised that the Highways and Planning committee will have a chance to discuss the issue on Wednesday 5th September.

It doesn't appear on the agenda, but will be raised as an item of correspondence.  Hedge End Town Council can object to or support the license application, but the decision will be made by the licensing team at Southampton City Council

Despite their claims not to have cut any services, the Lib Dems at Eastleigh have, in fact, closed down the Borough's own licensing team and transferred the responsibility to Southampton, retaining just an email address at Eastleigh.

Town councillors are advised that Eastleigh Borough Council's planning enforcement team will be writing to Southampton City Council to object to the license application on the grounds that it contravenes the condition imposed by the planning inspector to limit opening to 9:00-23:00.

Interested residents can make representations to - objections should fall into one of these categories:

The prevention of Crime and Disorder
Public Safety
Prevention of Public Nuisance
Protection of Children from Harm

H&P on Wednesday will also be considering the pre-consultation draft of the Borough's local plan:
Hedge End's Future - A Lib Dem Concrete Jungle (part 1)
Hedge End's Future - A Lib Dem Concrete Jungle (part 2)

Southampton Civic Centre photo credit: Andrew McDonald

Monday, 20 August 2012

Local Plan Debate (3): Lib Dem Strategy Makes Plan Unsound

Eastleigh Planners have been working on the Lib Dems' new Local Plan for 3,500 new houses in Hedge End and Botley for years according to Hedge End Town Councillor and Leader of the Borough Council Keith House.  Yet the official  report recommending the Plan to Council last month was not exactly effusive in its conclusions:

According to the report (paragraph 50), the local plan must be ‘sound’, and to be sound, a plan must be:

• Positively prepared - it must meet objectively assessed development requirements

• Justified – it must be the most appropriate strategy, considered against reasonable alternatives

• Effective – it must be deliverable over the plan period

• Consistent with national policy – it must enable the delivery of sustainable development

The report goes on to say (paragraph 51):

"Meeting these requirements in the context of the Council’s preferred strategy and the defined programme for the plan preparation process has been challenging. The process is not without its risks and the proposals will, inevitably, be subject to continuing objections, but I believe that the presubmission draft of the Eastleigh Borough Local Plan 2011 – 2029 attached to this report provides a clear, deliverable framework of  proposals and policies for meeting the borough’s development needs and for managing development pressures over the plan period."

According to the report, the Plan is "clear and deliverable", but it does not state that it is positively prepared, justified or consistent with national policy.

Surely if the plan did meet "objectively assessed development requirements" the report would say so.

Similarly why not trumpet the fact, if the plan was the "most appropriate strategy considered against reasonable alternatives"?

If it would "enable the delivery of sustainable development", you'd have thought the planners would be congratulating themselves, not passing it over in silence.

It seems that according to the Borough's own planners, the plan only meets one of the four success criteria for a "sound" plan.  And that is because it is based on the Lib Dems' flawed strategy of building at Woodhouse Lane and at South Stoneham at all costs.

The "presubmission draft" of the plan is open for consultation until 12th October.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Domino Effect: Late Night Pizza Parties in Hedge End?

A Domino's Juggernaut 
To the shock and surprise of residents near Hedge End's St John's Centre, Domino's Pizza is planning to stay open until three in the morning seven days a week, and has applied to Eastleigh Borough Council for a licence to do so.
When Domino's applied for planning permission in 2010, they were turned down by the Council who wanted to preserve a higher proportion of retail premises in the centre of Hedge End.  That decision was overturned by the central Government inspector, but with the condition that "The use hereby permitted shall not undertake any cooking or be open to customers outside the hours 09:00 to 23:00 on any day."

They are now seeking to undermine that condition, not via the planning system, but through licensing.  They are also doing it in August, a favourite month to sneak through unpopular changes as most people are thinking about summer holidays and not scanning the public notices sections of newspapers or council web sites.

Let's hope the council licensing team take into account that the centre of Hedge End is a residential area with children who have to get up for school, and with people who have to get up for work in the morning.  They don't want the noise of delivery motorbikes and cars, or gangs of people on their way home from pubs and clubs hanging around buying pizza until three in the morning.

People wishing to support or object to the licence application have until 7th September to do so in writing.

Details of how to object are on the Council's web site: here.

The reference number for the licence application is 2012/00394/05EPRN.

The Eastleigh branch of Domino's has applied for a similar licence.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Local Plan Debate (2): Who Can You Believe?

Doomed Countryside? 
Can Eastleigh Lib Dems actually deliver their plan for a thousand houses at Woodhouse Lane?

Last month's Borough Council meeting which saw the Lib Dem's Local Plan for Eastleigh bulldozed through with a massive majority was remarkable for the succession of Conservative speakers, both from the public gallery and in the council chamber, who insisted that the plan is not deliverable because Tory controlled Hampshire County Council will not release the land at Woodhouse Lane (which is currently leased to farmers) for housing.

Even 2010  parliamentary candidate Maria Hutchings had a statement read out on her behalf which is reproduced hereA representative of Botley Conservatives said it.  Cllr Judith Grajewski (Hiltingbury West) said it.  There is even a letter from Cllr Ken Thornber which says it.  The Tories will not - apparently - sell the land that the Lib Dems want so desperately to build on.

The Lib Dems claim that the Thornber letter is only stating a personal view and is not representative of County Council policy.  Hedge End Town Councillor Louise Bloom claimed that minutes of internal meetings prove that Cllr Thornber is wrong.

According to an Eastleigh officer's report to cabinet the Eastleigh plan is "deliverable" (paragraph 51 in this document), so the planners at the Civic Offices agree with the political administration that Cllr Thornber's opinion as leader of the County Council carries no weight.

Broken Promise in 2011
Who To Believe?

Bearing in mind that we are less than a year from elections for the County Council, claims by either party need to be treated with some scepticism.  The Lib Dems have already made election promises they knew they would not keep.  Hedge End Town Councillor Keith House, in introducing the Plan to Council last month, admitted he had been working on it for six years.  Yet Hedge End Lib Dems promised in both 2011 and 2012 that they would "stand up against more building and traffic in our area" at the same time as they were working on a plan for increased building and traffic in Hedge End and Botley.  Only Botley councillors have broken ranks with the Lib Dem leadership and voted against the plan.

Only Cllr Kyrle has kept this 2012 promise
And the Conservative and Lib Dem Coalition Government is desperate for local authorities to give up land for housing.  Can even Ken Thornber resist the weight of Eric Pickles and his party's national policy?

Walk The Walk?

Cllr John Caldwell (Conservative, Hiltingbury East) claimed in the Council debate that only representations made in the final stage of the Local Plan consultation would be made available to the inspector who has to approve the plan.

If that is the case, then it is up to the Tories to prove to the Inspector that the land at Woodhouse Lane will not be sold for housing.  This would make the Lib Dems' plan not achievable and force them back to the drawing board.

Consultation on the Pre-Submission Draft of the Local Plan runs from 17th August to 12th October.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Lib Dem Leaflet Out of Date and Unreliable

Wildern Mill:  Derelict and Dangerous 
The Daily Echo reports on Wednesday that the proposed new development at the derelict Wildern Mill brown field site will bring 400 jobs and 50 new houses to Hedge End.

Don't forget that the news was here first on Hedge End Blogger:  Wildern Mill "Next" Step Leaves Lib Dems with a Dilemma on 31st July and Wildern Mill: Another U Turn in Prospect on 12th July.

Lib Dems Actually Out of Touch with New Plans
New jobs are welcome, although it is in the nature of retail employment that not all those jobs will be full time, and as the new Next store will be replacing the existing furniture warehouse, some jobs will inevitably be lost as well.

Local Lib Dems, with their reliance on paper newsletters, are struggling to keep up even with this not particularly fast-moving news story.  A "Standpoint" being delivered in Hedge End this week claims that "Eastleigh Borough Council's Local Plan for the area promotes employment use on the site, accessed only from Charles Watts Way".

Alas for Cllrs Keith House and Rupert Kyrle who are pictured claiming credit for these "new proposals", events have moved on, and the policy referred to has been removed from the latest version of the Local Plan, on which consultation is due to start on 17th August.

What we in fact have is a mixed-use proposal with access from both Charles Watts Way and Turnpike Way, which has originated from the landowners, and not the Lib Dems.

With the Lib Dem Standpoint out of date and unreliable, the current proposals can be seen at

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Local Plan Debate (1): Mayor Breaks Ranks

Cllr Kyrle said No but Cllr Welsh said Yes 
Lib Dem keeps election promise!

The only Hedge End councillor to oppose the Lib Dem bulldozer and vote against the Pre-Submission Draft of the Eastleigh Local Plan was the multi-tasking Hedge End Town Councillor, Botley Parish Councillor, Botley Borough Councillor, County Councillor, Head of Chris Huhne MP's Office and Mayor of Eastleigh,  Rupert Kyrle.

Unlike other "dual-hatted" Lib Dem town councillors who also represent Hamble, Bursledon (Cllr House), and West End (Cllrs Clarke and Tennent), parishes which are being asked to sacrifice less than their fair share of green fields to the developers, Cllr Kyrle's only elected power base is in Hedge End and Botley.

With County Council elections next year, it would have been suicidal for the Lib Dems to have the County Councillor for Botley and Hedge End vote in favour of 3,500 new houses in his patch. 

Rupert has spoken against the Plan on several occasions, but his voting against the Lib Dem majority at full council does raise the question why Hedge End's Borough Councillors did not take the opportunity to vote with him and keep their recent election promises.

Broken Election Promise 2011
Cllrs Jenny Hughes, Derek Pretty, Jane Welsh and Mick Wheatley have all been elected on promises to "Save our Countryside", and "Stand up Against more Building and Traffic" in the last two years, yet along with Cllr Peter Hughes, they dutifuly trooped in behind Lib Dem leader Keith House and fellow cabinet member Louise Bloom to vote for a plan which does just the opposite for Hedge End.

It was particularly irritating for Hedge End residents in the public gallery that a succession of Lib Dem councillors from Bursledon, Fair Oak, Horton Heath and  West End spoke praising the Plan which protects green fields in their areas from development but not a single Hedge End councillor spoke up for the green fields of Hedge End and Botley.

As both Botley councillors were allowed to break ranks and vote against the Lib Dems' plans, electors in Hedge End will be asking themselves why their councillors failed to join them and merrily voted in favour of more building and traffic in our area.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sustrans: Supporting Cycling in Hedge End

But not all the way to Botley 
With approval by Hampshire County Council confirmed in the last week, work is likely to start "this year" on phase 1 of the long-awaited cycle link from Hedge End to Botley.  There is no outlook for when phase 2 will be completed so cyclists will still have to wait for a safe route all the way between the two centres.

With most of the funding provided back in March by cycling charity Sustrans and the Department of Transport, the wheels of local bureaucracy have turned as slowly as an olympic velodrome cyclist from a standing start.

A new, shiny cycle way will provide plenty of photo opportunities for candidates in next year's county elections, so what's the betting both Lib Dems and Conservatives take the credit?

A larger version of the map and other supporting documents are available on the Hampshire County Council web site.

Hedge End's Future: A Lib Dem Concrete Jungle (Part 2)

Unspoilt countryside at Woodhouse Lane 
Huge Housing Estates and Road Gridlock will be the most significant consequence of Lib Dem plans for housing in and around Hedge End, but what does the rest of the Borough Local Plan have in store for Hedge End?

Policy HE1 is concerned with the land to the West of Woodhouse Lane (opposite Hilliers Garden Centre).  Three quarters of the green fields will disappear under concrete for housing, "community facilities", a school (if the Education Authority thinks one is needed) and roads, effectively destroying the countryside gap between Hedge End and Botley.  The developers of the 1,000 houses to be built there will be expected to provide a financial contribution to road improvements.  Although the plan calls for footpath and cycle way links to the surrounding area, there is no protection for the existing right of way or permissive path that cross the site.

Road access to the new housing estates will be from Woodhouse Lane (which is also supposed to be "improved" as part of the indicative route for the Botley bypass), but a "bus-only" link will be provided to Maunsell Way.  It is not clear where this bus-only link will go if it is not to destroy existing footpaths and cycle ways, uproot more trees and hedgerows, or go through the grounds of Berrywood School.

The plan does call for the protection and enhancement of the stream and woodland corridor that meanders across the site and for landscaping and planting along the railway and Woodhouse Lane.

It anticipates that any future planning applications for those areas of Dowd's Farm that are not yet built should be in accordance with the development brief and provide appropriate open space and transport infrastructure (policy HE2).

Another hundred houses will be built on green fields between Foord Road and the motorway (policy HE3).

More green fields will go under policy HE4 which extends the office campus at Pavilion Road across to Woodhouse Lane, despite the wildlife interest present at the location.

Three remaining policies affect the narrow strip of land between the motorway and the A27 at Kanes Hill.  A wooded area will be developed for employment purposes (policy HE5) and a yard for travelling showpeople (policy HE6), and provision is made for a new cemetery (HE7).

Elsewhere in the plan routes are protected for new roads, including the Botley bypass / Woodhouse Lane widening, a new distributor road at Sunday's Hill, improvements to the motorway junctions, and a public transport priority route between Hedge End and Southampton (Strategic Policy S6).

The Council will "seek" to provide new cycleway and footpath links from Boorley Green to Hedge End station, from Botley to Southampton and from Eastleigh to Botley (Strategic Policy S7).

Consultation on the pre-submission draft starts on 17th August and goes on until 12th October, but don't expect the Lib Dems  to go out of their way to tell people.  The Council's web site still has the old, October 2011 version of the plan on its "Draft Local Plan Consultation" page, but the version agreed at Council can be found amongst the many papers presented to the special meeting of the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel.

Lib Dem Broken Promise 2011

Lib Dem Broken Promise 2012

Monday, 6 August 2012

Coalition Tiff Threatens Hedge End and Hamble Constituency

Nick Clegg has today announced the scrapping of the Lib Dems' plans to reform the House of Lords, blaming both David Cameron's failure to win over the 91 rebel Conservative backbenchers and, strangely, the Labour Party.  One of those Tory rebels was failed Hedge End Town Council candidate Conor Burns.

In a tit-for-tat revenge on his Tory partners, Clegg has told Cameron that his 57 MPs will no longer support the proposed boundary changes for the House of Commons which would have reduced the number of MPs to 600.  This despite a smaller House of Commons being a Lib Dem manifesto commitment.  The boundary changes would see Chris Huhne's Eastleigh constituency carved up, with some of the Eastleigh southern parishes moving to a new Hedge End and Hamble constituency.

In common with so much that the Lib Dems have proposed in coalition, the new constituency is an absolute dog's breakfast with wards from Southampton and Fareham with no geographical, historical, community or political affinity with Hedge End or Hamble stuck on to the edges to make the numbers work.  It is unlikely that anyone will mourn its passing if the Prime Minister fails to push the changes through without the help of his deputy.

Lib Dem activists (or at least those that are left after the recent slump in Lib Dem membership) must now be asking themselves what is the point of the coalition.  After embarrassing U turns on student tuition fees, nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and after meekly voting for Tory plans to dismantle the NHS and welfare state, they have had all their dreams of electoral reform thrown back in their faces.

Hedge End's Future - A Lib Dem Concrete Jungle (Part 1)

Countryside Doomed 
Huge Housing Estates and Road Gridlock are in store for Hedge End over the next twenty years as the Lib Dems bulldoze aside residents' concerns about the new Local Plan. 

Eastleigh Councillors have agreed by a whopping 37-5 majority to submit the latest version of the plan for a final consultation before it is submitted to a planning inspector for approval.  With a packed public gallery and presentations by residents of Hedge End, Bursledon, Botley and Eastleigh, all against the plan, the ruling Lib Dems turned their backs on local opposition and approved the third version of the plan.

What does it mean for Hedge End?

Above all, it means that Hedge End and Botley will be forced to accept more than their fair share of new housing, and will lose more than their fair share of green fields.

3487 houses out of a borough-wide total of 9613 (36%) will go up in Hedge End and Botley.  That compares with Hamble which will get only 80 houses, or less than one percent of the total.

If each household has two cars, each driving to and from work, that's another 14,000 daily car movements on our already overcrowded roads.  The Botley bypass and improvements to Woodhouse Lane are no longer required by the plan before the houses can be built.

A staggering 80% of the new housing in Hedge End and Botley will be on green field sites as our two parishes sacrifice more countryside than the rest of the Borough put together (2,800 houses on green fields here out of a total of 4,951).

.. and What does it mean for our neighbouring parishes?

Botley will see 1,400 houses built on the golf course at Boorley Green (policy B01) and 300 on fields between Winchester Street and the Railway line (policy B02).  The Botley bypass is no longer a prerequisite for these developments, but is reduced to a reserved "indicative" route (policy B03).  Restrictions are placed on any future development at Botley Mill (B04).

Bursledon will sacrifice green fields for 75 houses at Providence Hill (policy BU1), 155 north of the A27 and west of Blundell Lane (policy BU2) and 250 on the land east of Dodwell Land and north of Pylands Lane (policy BU3).   The added pressure from all the new housing in Botley and Hedge End will be too much for Sunday's Hill, and a new distributor road is proposed across green fields in policy BU4.  Boatyard expansion (policy BU5), restrictions on development in Old Bursledon (policy BU6) and provision of public open space (policy BU7) are also included.

In West End, green fields will go at Hatch Farm (80 houses, policy WE1) and Romill Close (60 houses, policy WE2).  Restrictions are placed on future change of use applications for the Chalcroft Distribution Park (policy WE3), criteria are defined for future sporting development at the Council's new asset, the Ageas (Rose) Bowl (policy WE4) and the door is opened for more commercial development at the Rose Bowl (policy WE5).  Land at the coach depot in Botley Road is allocated for housing (policy WE6).  Housing will be permitted on surplus land at Moorgreen Hospital (policy WE7).  Small scale residential development is proposed at Pinewood Park, Kanes Hill (policy WE8), and the Berrywood Business Park will be extended onto green fields off Tollbar Way.

Part Two of this blog will look at the Hedge End specific policies.

Consultation on the pre-submission draft starts on 17th August and goes on until 12th October, but don't expect the Lib Dems  to go out of their way to tell people.  The Council's web site still has the old, October 2011 version of the plan on its "Draft Local Plan Consultation" page, but the version agreed at Council can be found amongst the many papers presented to the special meeting of the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel.

Lib Dem Broken Promise 2011

Lib Dem Broken Promise 2012

Friday, 3 August 2012

Where Have All the Lib Dems Gone?

National and Local Decline 
National membership of the Lib Dems has fallen to below 49,000 (a slump of 25% in twelve months from 2010-2011).  In the same period, Labour membership has remained more or less static after a big increase in the previous year, and (although figures for actual Conservative membership are not available) the Tories report a drop in income from membership of 16%.

In the last two local elections, Hedge End and Eastleigh Lib Dems have bucked the national trend which has seen over a thousand Lib Dem councillors kicked out, and the lowest number of council seats in the party's history.

But Eastleigh Lib Dems are not immune to the drastic exodus of disillusioned members and betrayed activists.  According to its annual report filed with the Electoral Commission, they are losing members faster than the national party.  Between 2010 and 2011, 84 out of 297 local party loyalists voted with their feet, a collapse in membership of 28% compared with 25% nationally.

Lib Dem Dead Bird Graphic: