A HAMPSHIRE civic chief has clarified that the county council is NOT supporting the promotion of a controversial new town near Winchester.

The developers of Royaldown had claimed that the county council as the owners of a crucial chunk of land was backing their scheme on the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment list (SHELAA) list drawn up by the city council.

Farmer Nick Russell is proposing 5,000 homes on the land between Oliver's Battery and Hursley.

Felicity Roe, county council director culture, communities and business services has written to the city council to ask it to clarify HCC's position on the SHELAA: "This land has been promoted by a third-party developer/promoter without the county council’s knowledge or consent and seemingly on more than one occasion given the land was also identified in both the 2018 and 2019 SHELAA documents as a potential site for development.

"The recent publication of the 2020 SHELAA and more particularly the Royaldown ‘brochure/prospectus’ has resulted in a great deal of concern being raised over the Royaldown project and more specifically the county council’s apparent part in the proposal. The key issue here is the ‘box’ that the promoter has ticked ‘yes’ to in respect of the question: ‘has the landowner given permission for this site to be submitted’ in relation to the CS03 land. As we discussed, the county council has given no such permission.

"We therefore request that you publish an amendment to the September 2020 SHELAA to specifically confirm that the landowner (the county council) has/did not given/give its permission for the CS03 (Royaldown) land to be submitted. As landowner, it would be useful for the SHELAA to be updated as soon as is practically possible."

The SHELAA list is essentially a developers' wish list of proposals. The Lib Dem-controlled city council says it has no power to exclude proposals from that list and they must be considered as it draws up a new Local Plan.

City councillor Jackie Porter, Cabinet member for Built Environment, told full Council that Royaldown cannot be removed from the SHELAA: "The land known as Royaldown has been put forward for inclusion in the city council’s SHELAA, and like every other site put forward for consideration, requires a formal statutory process before determining whether or not the site is considered suitable for development. The allocation of new sites for housing, including affordable homes, and other forms of development is part of the Local Plan process and the amount and location of sites is based on a range factors including housing need. The methodology which produces a figure for the district is set by Government and defines the number of homes we are to plan for."

The council council owns Bushfield Farm which would be needed for an access road into the new estate. Without the support of the county council the development would be impossible to build.

Cllr Porter said the promoters of Royaldown would be written to and asked to remove the statement about county council support.

Campaigners form alliance to fight new town proposals at Royaldown and Micheldever Station

Meanwhile, a former city councillor is calling for the controversial Royaldown scheme to provide a new council housing estate.

Ian Tait, a Conservative councillor, who served on the city council planning committee for 20 years until 2019, is calling on the city council to look into using the the proposal as a way of meeting the pressing need for affordable housing.

Mr Tait asked the Council meeting: “In light of the chronic under provision of affordable and inclusive housing in the Winchester area, has any consideration been given to approaching the

consortium promoting the Royaldown development as to whether some of the available land could be given over to the Council to build a new 21st century council estate?"

Answering, council leader Lucille Thompson said Royaldown must be considered as part of the Local Plan process.

The Tories have claimed that it shows Lib Dem support for the controversial proposal. However it has been revealed that the Conservative-controlled county council had supported the developers proposing the the scheme. The developers climed county council sport for its scheme.

As reported, a virtual demonstration is being held on Sunday at Noon to protest against the Royaldown plans.To book a place to hear more on https://sswdemo.eventbrite.com.