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Barton Farm: reaction starts to flow
FOR Mike Emett, development director for Cala Homes, today’s decision climaxes years of work.
But after promoting the scheme for more than ten years, today he would only say: “I’m really pleased.”
In a statement Cala said: “We welcome the appeal decision and now look forward to continuing to work with the city council and local community to deliver a high-quality development.
“Coming so soon on the back of stimulus packages designed to support the construction industry we feel this decision provides a major boost to the entire house-building sector and reaffirms the coalition’s stance on the role the house-building industry can play in supporting a wider economic recovery.
“Local people will benefit greatly from this decision. It will be a major contributor to stimulating the local economy and creating long-term jobs. Furthermore it will make a significant contribution to the chronic shortage of affordable housing, enabling key workers and other local people to live in their own city.
“We will shortly be examining the detailed design for each of the phases in line with the masterplan to ensure that much-needed housing is delivered as soon as possible.”
City MP Steve Brine said: "I think it was becoming increasingly difficult to save Barton Farm from the moment it was identified a reserve major development area by Winchester City Council in 2004 and a very real problem for campaigners opposed to development was the fact they had to get lucky every time, whereas CALA had to hit the jackpot just once. I want to pay enormous tribute to the Save Barton Farm Group and the thousands of people who continue to support their campaign.
"Assuming Barton Farm is developed, 2,000 houses on this site will in my opinion ultimately make the city a less comfortable place to live. We will get used to it, and not too many years from now we'll no doubt struggle to remember how it looked before, but a special piece of the landscape setting of Winchester will be gone forever.
"As I have always maintained, I will now engage positively with CALA to ensure they live up to their promises and give us the high quality development promised. I will also be keeping very close tabs on the affordable element of the housing to see if it really does deliver new homes for local people and dramatically reduce the council waiting list."
He added that he was seeking an early meeting with Winchester's state secondary heads, as well as Hampshire County Council, to discuss the effect on secondary school places that development on Barton Farm will accelerate.
Winchester City Council leader Keith Wood said he was disappointed by the decision.
He said this afternoon: “Personally I am disappointed that the time has come to release this site for housing but the Secretary of State has applied his own rules and we have no choice but to follow them.
“We argued strongly about the application, but we have been overtaken by events. The council now needs to ensure that the development of this site generates all the promised benefits to the community. We plan to set up a forum to help ensure that the development minimises the disruption to Winchester residents, and the infrastructure requirements are implemented properly and promptly.”