Your recent Labour and Conservative correspondents have raised questions about the need for development at Bushfield Camp. 

As a result, it is probably useful to remind them how the decision was made that this site was ‘needed’ for employment.

When Labour councillors and Conservative councillors voted unanimously in March 2013 to require Winchester City Council to provide 20 hectares of employment land and required that those 20 hectares should be at Bushfield Camp, a decision that I and Liberal Democrat colleagues had opposed, they were – in effect – removing the ability for future administrations to oppose planning applications on those sites on the basis of need.

That doesn’t mean that the Liberal Democrats are taking the need assessment commissioned by the previous Conservative administration and backed by the Labour Party in 2013 as holy writ. 

We have commissioned a new study to give an update on the employment needs across the Winchester district.

However, as your Conservative and Labour correspondents should also know, their parties’ decision to mandate the availability of Bushfield as an employment site is not one the city council could reverse or oppose without agreeing a new Local Plan. While we are working on that on the fastest practical timing, it is very unlikely to be available before a planning application for Bushfield is submitted to the city council.

In the meantime, I and my colleagues made it clear at the recent cabinet meeting that the concerns I raised as long ago as 2009 – particularly around traffic and the resulting scale of development – still need to be addressed during the assessment of the upcoming planning application.  

It would be useful if the Conservative and Labour parties were to focus on challenging the practical consequences of their decisions in 2013, rather than raising theoretical questions that their own decisions have made impossible to address.

Cllr Martin Tod,
Loyd-Lindsay Square, 

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