All 12 City, District and Borough Councils in the South of Hampshire along with the County Council meet regularly to look at housing needs, employment, investment, infrastructure and other local issues. This is an organisation called PUSH (Partnership for Urban South Hampshire) and includes Southampton, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Havant and the southern parts of New Forest, Test Valley, Winchester, East Hants and Hampshire County Council.
PUSH region Map
In this region we need to build 100,000 new homes between now and 2034 to meet our own needs (growing population, ageing population, more homes with single people living in them etc). This is a tough enough challenge to put these into the right places with the right facilities. When this means sacrificing green fields then it is a case of “The Least Worst Place” by selecting low grade green farm land and areas that have the least impact on the community. It is important that we achieve this though to ensure we can provide sufficient housing and make provision for rented and shared ownership accommodation too.
At the last PUSH meeting there was a presentation by CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) which put forward a proposal to establish a green belt across the South of England. Sounds like a great idea. Anything to protect high quality open space from being built on is important but how would this affect us?
At this point it gets very territorial between the local authorities. All of us are open to housing in the right places, and can live with it in the least worse place, but it would be great if we could all take our own fair share…
Portsmouth for example is land locked and fully built up and can not meet its own housing needs (although it could choose to allow tall buildings to be built like Southampton). Gosport struggles with viable development and access down the A32 is already slow and improving access is costly. Developers like to focus on communities with greater house prices so they get a better return. Other local authorities simply don’t achieve their own planned figures.
So what then would the impact of a green belt be?
Realistically there would be none in East Hants as we have few credible areas in Clanfield, Horndean and Rowlands Castle to put forward. For Districts like Fareham, Gosport, Eastleigh and others wholly in PUSH it would be a major score to establish these zones. Immensely popular. A big vote winner even.
The problem for us is that we already have one large zone to the north of us where development is pretty much impossible. The SNDP (South Downs National Park Authority) covers over 50% of East Hants land area and takes only 10% of the housing. Creating a Green Belt to the south of us cutting across all of the other Cities and Districts will only add to the pressure on the “Duty To Cooperate” between adjacent local authorities to take on another authorities un-met need.
For me the only proposal that we should accept allowing our neighbouring authorities to designate ‘Green Belts’ is if they are also in a position to accommodate their own housing needs inside their own boundaries in areas outside of the belt. As the EHDC PUSH and Solent LEP representative this is the position I will be taking – so apologies if you hear me not speaking positively about a Green Belt, but this is the reason why…