Friday, 27 September 2013

Tory Land Flip Flop Dooms Hedge End Fields

Green Field or Party Political Football?
Tories at Hampshire County Council have changed their minds and are now willing to release green field land they own at Woodhouse Lane for housing. Perhaps I am too cynical about party politics, but it is pretty obvious the Tories said one thing before the May 2013 elections and now with four years before the next county council elections they turn their backs on the Botley and Hedge End countryside.

Predictably local Lib Dems, including cabinet members Cllrs Keith House and Louise Bloom have jumped at the chance to concrete over the last remaining area of agricultural land in Hedge End. At Thursday's cabinet meeting the Lib Dems were unanimous in adopting a strategy that puts 800 more houses in Hedge End.

What is worse, the Lib Dems got their numbers wrong in the first version of the local plan, and they now need to build over a thousand more houses in Fair Oak and Horton Heath.

Perhaps the least edifying aspect of the cabinet meeting was the party political spat between Cllr House and Cllr Olson, the leader of the Chandlers Ford and Hiltingbury Tories, over whether the county council u-turn is the first or second time they have flip flopped on this.

Meanwhile there was hardly any debate about the merits of alternative locations, such as the eyesore car boot sale land near Windhover Roundabout. This land is of little environmental value, is not used for agricultural purposes, and is right on the doorstep of the employment possibilities in Southampton. And existing bus routes go right past it. How is that less sustainable than Woodhouse Lane?


  1. Yes, I was rather surprised when I heard about that U-turn last night. It was the last thing I had expected the Tories at HCC to do.

    Then again the voters unambiguously rejected the Tories earlier this year, despite their claim to have saved Woodhouse Lane. So we can't really blame them (i.e. the Tories) for being uncommitted to the decision now. I doubt they feel bound by the decision after two recent drubbings at the ballot box...

    The way it was explained to me earlier was HCC have had a change of Leader and HCC now take the view that they're not the Planning Authority, so they don't want to stand in the way of the development that EBC want to bring forward.

    So with the not entirely unexpected by-election and County Council elections out of the way, the local Conservatives are collateral damage here, political casualties of a change of mind at a higher level.

    Though I suspect some of the Quango's that we tend to forget about might also have had some influence here.

    It isn't necessarily top-level Tories torpedoing grass-roots Tories...

  2. As for Windhover, that scruffy car-boot area is also used for Park & Ride schemes, serving both the Rose Bowl and St Mary's Stadium and is conveniently located by a Motorway junction. If we developed that site, Park & Ride would have to provided somewhere else, but where...?

    I'm sure we wouldn't want that previous idea of Park & Ride on Greta Park revisited, not just to serve the Rose Bowl occasionally but the Football stadium too...!

    1. The thing is Ray, wherever you put the houses it raises the question what happens to the old land use. If we destroy agricultural land we end up having to import more food. Bad for the environment and bad for the economy.

    2. Too right. They'll be building houses on allotments next.

  3. Having read the minutes of the meeting for Greta Park parking - this was suggested as an occasional car park not permanent.

    However, the depressing decision of the Lib Dems to concrete the last green space of Hedge End throws up a lot of issues. The roads are already grid locked; people are being quoted a six week wait to get a doctor's apopointment; amenties are under pressure. How are these going to be addressed? Are the Lib Dems coming up with any answers to these questions or will they conduct a cynical exercise in asking the public what they would like and then actively ignoring the answers (as in the past)? Are Hedge End Town Councillors actually doing anything to represent the views of residents who do not want this? Jane Welsh, Derek Pretty, Louise Bloom and her daughter Caitlin (who lives in Leicester), Dan Clarke (who doesn't live in Hedge End) along with Bruce whatisname have voted for this diastrous further development of Hedge End. Where is their loyality - oh, I forgot, it's bought with their allowances.


  4. Wait a minute...aren't we back up to the original housing numbers in the SDA that EBC 'abolished' in 2010?

  5. Does that include the houses being built in other council areas that will be generating traffic through Hedge End to get to the motorway?

  6. I'm sickened by the whole lot of them. Why don't we just accept that They clearly have no commitment whatsoever to preserving our countryside, our first-class agricultural land or our village communities.

    Public opinion counts for nowt. Demos and protests are simply ignored. 'Public consultation' is just an expensive, meaningless gesture to democracy. Chuck in the towel, folks, lie back and watch the concrete pour over what is left of our beloved Hampshire.

  7. From what I can gather (and it might not be correct), Mr House put HCC under a lot of pressure including the threat of legal action if HCC did not agree to allow Woodhouse lane to be developed. He comes across as a bully who will no allow anyone to stand in the way of HIS objectives. :-(

  8. They'll be erecting fences next to keep us Plebs in our housing estates away from those with their own estates in the Meon Valley; seems to me Eastleigh has quite enough people (too many judging by the congested roads, overcrowded schools and lengthy gp queues! Or does Keith House get a commission on housing/ people per km?