Romsey residents spoke passionately in objection to a plan for a large new community at Whitenap, south of the town.

The meeting, of Romsey Town Council's planning committee on June 16, gave people the opportunity to speak about their concerns and support of the development.

As a result of the speakers, and the council's deliberations, the committee decided to send an objection to the plan, to Test Valley Borough Council.

The application is for 1,1000 homes with associated open space, roads, parking, service infrastructure, local food production and landscaping.

It has been submitted by the Ashfield Partnership, which comprises the Ashfield Estate as landowner and three developers: C G Fry and Son Ltd, Morrish Homes, and Wyatt Homes.

Richard Buss, a member of the Romsave group, said: “This is the biggest decision that the Southern Area planning committee is going to have to make for decades to come, and we must ensure we get this right.

“Without the bridge, the site is unsustainable. The bridge is the only direct access to facilities, amenities and the town centre. Relying on the one pedestrian and a cycle route via Tadburn Road for access to the town is insufficient and irresponsible.

“We know that the Tadburn path can't be widened or improved and Botley Road is at capacity and a dangerous road for cyclists.

“Without the bridge the development is creating increased reliance on the car so why is the developer not wanting to build the bridge?

“The Local Plan clearly states there is to be open parkland in the form of a country park along the northern boundary, to help retain the characteristics identified in the Romsey Town Design Statement for Tadburn. The current masterplan has no regard for this provision and has made no sports provision at all.

“There is a total lack of joined up thinking. A development of this size must create a community hub, a town centre that comprises facilities, amenities and the primary school.

“I urge councillors to vote to object in the strongest possible terms to this planning application.”

READ MORE: Biggest decision 'for a generation' as plan for 1,100 new homes at Whitenap near Romsey is submitted to Test Valley Borough Council

Kate Greatrix, who lives close to the site, said: “If the current application is granted, full planning permission for the elements of the access strategy will be approved and effectively fixed, unless the applicant itself applies to alter it later.

“There may be other matters that still concern us and we think that something better could be achieved. Move the employment and some of the housing prevision from Whitenap Lane to the south of the site opposite Abbey Park Industrial Estate and replace with outdoor sports facilities and convert the barns into a sports pavilion.

“Speak up with your concerns as this is really the last chance we have.”

Christopher Esplin-Jones, from the Romsey and District Society, spoke in support of the application. He said: “The government requires the Test Valley to build a lot of houses. Whitenap is the perfect site for this. It's needed to meet the housing targets, we believe the plan must be maintained.”

Cllr Mark Cooper declared an interest because he owns land that borders the site, so he spoke as a member of the public. He said: “All the work on the plan between 2008 and 2016 has been totally ignored on the latest masterplan. It's as if the Local Plan did not exist. When you build a new development, the people that already live here need to benefit from it as well as the newcomers.”

“We're going to have to keep fighting this one. This is a valuable piece of land and it deserves the very best and at the moment, it hasn't got the very best.”

Cllr Nick Adams-King, who represents Romsey Rural on Hampshire County Council, said: “My fear with this application is that there is no aspiration for the site.

“This is going to be the largest development in Romsey for not just our generation, but for those that come after us.

“We owe it to our children and grandchildren to get this right. To ensure that this development matches the wonderful town in which we live and the priorities we know our fellow Romsonians have.

“I ask you to be aspirational for Romsey. To object to the current application for the site. To require something better for us all.”

SEE ALSO: Proposed plans for over 1,000 homes at Whitenap, Romsey

Following the public participation, councillors gave their thoughts.

Cllr Janet Burnage said: “I was assured by the landowner that the bridge would be built. They have gone back on their word.”

Cllr John Parker said: “I propose an objection based on what has been said tonight and our observations.”

The new chair of the committee Cllr Sally Lamb confirmed the objection.

A spokesman for the Ashfield Partnership said: “The Ashfield Partnership recognises the concerns expressed. There are conflicting pressures so we don’t expect to be able to please everybody but we will continue to work with Test Valley Borough and Hampshire County Councils to find the optimum achievable scheme for Whitenap.”

To view the details of the plan, search 22/01213/OUTS on Test Valley Borough Council's planning portal.

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