Parish Council leaders from across Winchester have met to discuss the additional housing numbers being imposed upon them by Winchester City Council’s planning chiefs.

Representatives from Hursley, Compton and Shawford, Badger Farm, South Wonston, Oliver’s Battery and Sparsholt discussed concerns with the local plan process as they are pressed to agree housing allocations by the end of this month.

Hursley Parish Council Chairman David Killeen said: “We are concerned that the tight timetable is forcing parish councils to make a rushed decision to allocate another 300 houses by the end of April. This is before we’ve seen any evidence from the City Council for housing need or we have the final housing numbers from the deal with the Partnership for South Hampshire authorities.

"We do know that more than 3,000 houses are proposed across the district, with 1,600 already planned for the city centre and surrounds, and confirmed growth sites in Otterbourne, South Wonston and Sutton Scotney. We are all agreed that before any decisions are taken, we must have sufficient time to consult our residents”.

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At the end of the meeting the parish councillors agreed to ask for an extension to the deadline to respond and to raise the following important questions from the City Council Strategic planning team:

• Why are there still unanswered questions about the ‘opinion-based’ evidence included in the desktop settlement hierarchy table that has allocated growth sites in three areas of the district;

• Why site visits to settlements have taken place without parish councils being informed creating an issue of transparency around the process being followed by city council planners;

• Why the city council are so focused on building on green fields outside the city centre, given the need to produce local food rather than working closely with all parishes to find brownfield sites locally such as small areas of infill or unused agricultural buildings;

• With so many small settlements being proposed, and the cost of building materials likely to increase, developers will reduce their infrastructure contributions to the council. So how will Winchester City Council finance the necessary investment in schools, roads, shops and healthcare as well as provide much needed affordable housing stock for local families.

“Parish Councils are keen to help but there are some very important issues that must be addressed before any decisions are taken. We hope Winchester City Council will listen” added Mr Killeen.

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