THE latest plan for housing and employment sites across the Test Valley will go to public consultation, despite Liberal Democrat concerns. 

The local plan sets out the policies that will guide development across the borough. 

It was approved for the next stage of public consultation at the full council meeting on January 17, starting on February 6 and lasting for eight weeks. 

Concerns were raised by the Lib Dems, who said they weren't satisfied with the level of councillor consultation. 

National government has stated that 11,000 homes in total be created between 2020-2040, in line with the latest household projections. 

This is the minimum required and the plan seeks to provide resilience in terms of future supply. 

Major sites include next to Romsey bypass, Ganger Farm and Velmore Farm near Valley Park.

Cllr Philip Bundy, planning portfolio holder, said: “This is a key planning document for the borough. We need to preserve local gaps and deliver affordable homes. A balance needs to be struck between development and protecting the countryside.”

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Hampshire Chronicle: Romsey site allocations

Cllr John Parker, Lib Dem, said: “I would like to thank the officers for all the work they have put in producing the draft of the revised local plan up to 2040. But I cannot honestly say it is the councillors' plan. We have seen it and had it explained to us, but it has not been produced with us. Given this council's enviable record of consultation, community engagement and deliverable activities, I had expected that this plan would be at least be developed in working sessions with officers and councillors not after the event briefing sessions. 

“Let us put some more time and effort into producing a draft that we can all support and not rush into premature release.”

Cllr Geoff Cooper, also Lib Dem, said: “There are for example in this Local Plan, several changes to local gaps. These local gaps are important to help preserve the individual identity of our communities and stop urban sprawl. Any proposed changes to them should be scrutinised and debated. It should not simply be a case of briefing councillors to inform them of changes to local gaps.”

Conservative Cllr Chris Donnelly said: “I'm sorry to hear some councillors feel they haven't been consulted. It's an unenviable task to find appropriate sites.” 

Deputy leader Cllr Nick Adams-King said: “One of the challenges is our villages becoming ghettos for the elderly and wealthy. People aren't able to downsize. We need smaller homes for people to move into. There is a long way to go yet.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Andover site allocations

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In the south of Test Valley, 4,730 homes are required. An existing housing supply of 3,773 homes, with 70 homes required through neighbourhood plans, leaves 887 homes to be developed.

The local plan is allocating sites at: south of Ganger farm, east Romsey (340 homes); south of bypass, south Romsey (110 homes); Velmore Farm, Valley Park (1,070 homes); land at King Edwards Park, Chandler's Ford (44 extra care units); and land at Upton Lane, Nursling (80 homes).

In the north, 6,270 homes are required. An existing housing supply of 3,098 homes, with 40 homes required through neighbourhood plans, leaves 3,132 homes to be developed.

The plan is allocating sites at: south of London Road, east Andover (90 homes); Manor Farm, north of Saxon Way, north Andover (800 homes); Bere Hill, south east of Andover (1,400 homes); east of Ludgershall (350 homes) and south east of Ludgershall (1,150 homes).

The local plan also identifies the amount of land required for employment uses. This has been identified as 71.7 hectares. 

In the south, 40.4 hectares are required, some of which is met by existing supply. The plan proposes additional sites at Abbey Park (5.9 ha); south of Botley Road, Romsey (1.2 ha); Test Valley Business Park (2.2 ha); Kennels Farm, North Baddesley (3.9 ha); by providing an extension to University of Southampton Science Park, Chilworth; and at Upton Lane, Nursling (8.5 ha). 

In the north, these needs are currently met by 31.3 hectares allocated. An additional opportunity to deliver high-quality employment land has been identified at the site south of Thruxton Aerodrome.

The latest draft of the local plan was approved for consultation with 24 Conservatives voting for and 15 Lib Dems voting against.