A DEVELOPER battling to build a new town near Winchester has been buoyed by the housing ambitions of the new Labour Government.

The O'Flynn Groups proposes a 6,000 home town around Micheldever Station, a campaign started by the previous landowner in 1989.

The new Government wants to kick-start a wave of house building and backs the idea of  new towns and mandatory housebuilding targets.

A spokesperson for O’Flynn Group said the Labour announcements would impact on their Micheldever plans: “It is clear that there will be fundamental change to the planning system under the new Labour government elected last week. 

Cllr Martin Tod  (Image: Contributed)

"We welcome the speech made by Rachel Reeves, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, on Monday which confirmed the much anticipated change in direction on planning policy. This included announcing the restoration of mandatory house building targets, confirming that new ‘pro-growth’ directions will be issued to local government and action to unlock some of the major stalled development sites across the country.

"Labour has also signalled that New Towns are part of the solution to the country’s housing needs and are likely to feature in the new government’s legislative programme to be announced next week.

"Winchester City Council, along with all its neighbouring councils, will need to think whether their emerging Local Plans reflect this new agenda.  

"As promoters of the land at Micheldever Station, we stand ready to meet the area’s economic and housing development needs at a location that can provide the infrastructure to deliver a truly sustainable development.”

Opponents of the O'Flynn plans have been hit by the decision of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to earmark Popham Airfield as a potential site for housing. The airfield is on the edge of the new town boundary. More than 400 objections have been received to the idea.

READ MORE HERE: Hundreds of objections to housing plans for Popham Airfield

Battling the new town for 35 years has been the Dever Society. In a statement to the Chronicle this week it said:  "The society is of course concerned at the potential implications of the new government's policies on planning. We have always supported new housing that's appropriate and in the right place - the many small housing developments that have been built in our area over recent years have strengthened our communities.

"But a large new town such as that proposed for Micheldever, possibly combined with the proposed 'garden village' on Popham Airfield, is not sustainable, and is in the wrong place to solve housing demand in Hampshire.

"In 2007 the proposed new town at Micheldever was submitted by the previous developers for inclusion as one of the large new towns to be built across the country under the then-prime minister Gordon Brown's Eco-town policy. After an intensive review, it was rejected, mainly because it was considered that the location was not sustainable from a transport perspective, and would result in unacceptable increases in traffic and congestion. It may be 17 years later, but those concerns are even more relevant today, and provide just one of the reasons for rejecting a large new conurbation at Micheldever."

Local politicians repeated their opposition to the plans and said Labour had made similar noises about development in the past.

Cllr Martin Tod, city council leader, said: "Our district faced the question of a potential new town at Micheldever Station when Labour were last in power. I opposed it then and I'm not persuaded now for many of the same reasons.  In the end, it came to nothing.  The idea of a Popham New Town is even worse.

The plan for Micheldever New Town. Popham Airfield is to to the top right of the town. Image: Dever Society

"Although the Government hasn't included New Towns in their planning announcements to date, their manifesto was clear that any New Town would be "In partnership with local leaders and communities" and "alongside urban extensions and regeneration projects" and it's only right to take them at their word. I'd be more than happy to discuss how the government could support the council's plans for regeneration and the Sir John Moore Barracks urban extension - but, from my point of view, a New Town should stay off the table. "

Cllr Tod said Winchester doesn't need a New Town to hit its housing targets. "Even though the Government is making the current housing targets mandatory, our draft Local Plan delivers those targets without needing to concrete over the countryside."

What do you think? Write to letters@hampshirechronicle.co.uk or by post to 5 Upper Brook Street, Winchester, SO23 8AL.