Councillors and planning officers clash over rural homes near Itchen Abbas (From Hampshire Chronicle)
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Itchen Abbas, planning, Ernie Jeffs, Mark Baring
CITY COUNCILLORS went against the guidance of planning officials and approved a housing development close to South Downs National Park.
Two luxury homes could now be built on the Grange Estate near Itchen Abbas, with the planning committee voting not to reject the application, despite officers' concerns. Addressing the committee, Simon Finch, head of planning management, urged careful consideration before rejecting the recommendations. “This is quite an important decision to take in policy terms,” he said.
The site on Rectory Lane is a former dairy farm comprising several dilapidated buildings. Officers argued that since the site was rural and outside 'the village envelope' of Itchen Abbas, planning policy did not permit demolition of the buildings in favour of housing, unless the homes were shown to be exceptionally innovative.
Two previous proposals to develop the buildings for commercial storage, in 2003 and in 2004, were also rejected, leading councillor David McLean to ask: “How can we possibly be trying to defend our policy in this situation?”
Bill Loader, an Itchen Valley parish councillor, said: “We support this application because the current site is an eyesore.”
Speaking at the meeting on Thursday (August 23), applicant the Hon Mark Baring said: “This site has been particularly problematic. Over the last year I have consulted with local people and the support I received persuaded me to go ahead.”
Concluding, chairman Ernie Jeffs said the application would not be refused, subject to certain conditions to be outlined at a later date. Mr Baring said afterwards: “I'm very pleased indeed and I think it's absolutely the right decision.”