Hart has backed the Hampshire County Council plans but Elvetham Heath Developments (EHD) could now pull the plug on the whole scheme.
Under a 1997 legal agreement which accom-panied planning permission for the Elvetham Heath development, EHD has given about £2.2million towards the Fleet Inner Relief Road or ‘alternative transportation improvements in Fleet’.
Nick Scregg, managing director of EHD, said: “The issue of dispute between ourselves and Hampshire County Council is how this contribution is being used, given that the county council has now apparently aban-doned its plans for a Fleet Inner Relief Road.
“Over the past 12 months we have tried to seek clarification from Hampshire County Council on exactly what purpose the contribution would now be put towards. To date we have received no such clarification from Hampshire County Council.
“If the county proposes to use the contributions from Elvetham Heath for the current traffic management and environmental enhancement schemes proposal, we have been advised by our legal experts that in their opinion this does not constitute an alternative scheme under the framework of the original agreement.”
Mr Scregg said EHD would “regrettably” be left with no choice but to pursue judicial review procedures to rule on the legitimacy of the county council using its financial contributions for the current scheme.
He added that EHD did not want to express an opinion on the merits of the current county council proposals.
“These proposals do not have any direct effect on Elvetham Heath itself and we can confirm that we have not been involved in any recent consultations or planning decisions on the proposals,” said Mr Scregg.
Hart’s full council finally backed the county council scheme last Thursday, despite a last-ditch bid to stop it by Independent councillor Denis Gotel, who called on colleagues to back his alternative plan.
Cllr Gotel said his plan included an all-important feeder road and cycleway running along the route of the Fleet Inner Relief Road, taking up to 7% of traffic from busy Fleet Road.
He also pointed out that his plan retained general on-street parking in Fleet Road, which had the support of the vast majority of shoppers and traders.
Cllr Gotel told members of a letter sent by EHD solicitors to Hampshire County Council warning of their legal position.
“Let it be clear — should the developers pursue their case in the courts we risk losing everything and having nothing done,” he warned.
Cllr Gotel added: “The county is foisting a scheme on Fleet town that, like the Elvetham Road fiasco, is badly thought out and badly designed.
“It is not wanted by anyone other than the members of a small group of townsfolk.”
But Cllr Gotel’s appeal fell on deaf ears.
After the meeting, he said: “The lemmings on Hart Council blindly threw themselves over the proverbial high and contentious cliff.
“Despite the issues staring them in the face, the Conservatives decidedly backed their portfolio holder to the last.
“The Liberals, other than two, were also disappointing, given they had a free vote.
“In the end I have to concede that there was overwhelming member support for the Hampshire County Council proposals to turn the centre of Fleet into a motorist no-go area.
“It was, I feel, a particularly sad day for democracy in the wider sense, as so very few people want the Hampshire County Council scheme that could now be foisted upon us.”
Fellow Independent Cllr Stephen Gorys, who seconded Cllr Gotel’s amendment, added: “This is a sad day for Fleet.
“The vitality of the town and the general public’s ability to get from one end of it to the other will be seriously compromised.
“It is clear to me that inadequate thought has been put into the greater traffic problems facing the town centre and this is but a sticking plaster rather than a completely planned review.”