A FORMER city councillor has criticised the lack of planning consultation in the rural areas around Winchester.

Linda Gemmell, who represented the Central Meon Valley ward until the 2022 elections, asked what was being done to improve the scope of consultations, at a recent meeting.

Ms Gemmell said: “Some 11 years ago this council won awards for the Blueprint exercise whereby it consulted widely with residents, businesses, parish councils, interest groups, individual groups, leisure groups from Brownies to U3A groups, from the Quilters to the Wolves.

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“Every possible occupant of the wider Winchester District and they bought into the wider vision, the seeds of which were sown by long-sighted officers who had devised an almost perfect consultation tool which was trusted by the communities.

“I am not so sure that the anywhere near the same level of attention to detail, and the wishes of the communities involved are being listened to in the same meaningful way.

“When will action be taken to comply with the wider district’s needs and wants as voiced increasingly loudly from the side-lines? When will we see better consultation, and a feedback loop that demonstrates that the council has heard and acted upon the results of that consultation?”

Winchester City Council's leader, Cllr Martin Tod, said: “We are currently consulting on the Local Plan with members of the public. We are holding consultation events in-person and online. The end result will be a robust Local Plan.”

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Ms Gemmell questioned the lack of employment allocation in rural areas. She said: “I hear about the lack of consultation from every parish council I speak to. I am worried they are not being listened to.”

Cllr Tod said: “Officers have engaged with parish councils where issues were raised.

“We have not published the latest employment spaces. That will be in the next stage in the process of the Local Plan.”

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