Over the last few days surveyors have been seen on and around White Dirt farm. I have had several calls and emails to let me know, and asking questions, so I have put some of these here:
“Why would surveyors be out on the farm land?” There are very few reasons why this might occur and the concern is that it could be in preparation for a planning application.
“Has a planning application been put in for White Dirt Farm?” – No. no application has been received.
“Do East Hants know of any proposals to submit one?” Neither I, nor the Ward Councillor (Councillor Sara Schillemore whose ward it is in) know of any plans, and we are both following this up with the planning team at EHDC so see if they have heard of anything.
“Planning has already been approved and it is a done deal” Absolutely not. It is just not possible for any planning application to be considered and approved without bring notified and consulted on.
“The site can not be built on”. The land is in a “Designated Local Gap” which means that the current and past District Councillors and planning staff at EHDC have decided that it should not be built on to make sure that adjacent villages do not merge together. White Dirt Farm is important gap land between Horndean, Clanfield and Cowplain. The Local Plan and Joint Core Strategy (which will be adopted in March 2014) contain local policies to protect designated local gaps. These prevent the land from being developed provided 1) there are other better locations to build on, and 2) the rate of new house building is meeting the current requirements (known as the 5 year plan) We absolutely have better places to build on (see earlier articles on housing to read more about Hazleton Farm) but our new build progress which varies may not currently be fast enough with the new and significantly larger housing numbers we are required to deliver.
“Was Green Lane in gap land?” Green Lane was not a designated gap so we have more protection and environmental reasons to oppose development here.
“What is your view?” I am on record as being totally against any development on White Dirt Farm and will strongly oppose any application.
“Can an application be stopped before it is submitted?” No. Anyone is free to submit a planning application at any time for any land. There are however much better sites to develop with a far better prospect of success than this site which will receive fierce resistance if an application turns up. It does, however, create concern and anxiety in the meantime.
“Could bulldozers turn up tomorrow?” No. The planning process for a large site is lengthy and involves consultation and extensive survey. Any serious application for a site this large will cost between £50,000 and £100,000 to prepare for and to submit.
“Is there a risk the farm could be developed?” We have done everything we can to protect the land but yes, there is unless we can demonstrate we are building enough housing elsewhere, or the proposals are not Sustainable as defined by the NPPF (See Below). Again, there are much better and lower risk sites for the developers to select.
Further Reading: Planning is governed by The NPPF – National Planning Policy Framework and the link for this policy is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6077/2116950.pdf
I will put updates on here when I receive any hard facts.