CAMPAIGNERS fighting controversial bids to build at least 450 more homes in the Fleet area are celebrating a major victory.
They are delighted that Hart Council’s cabinet has decided development blueprints should not be drawn up for a 300-home estate on fields in Hitches Lane, Fleet, or a 150-home scheme in the countryside at Dilly Lane, Hartley Wintney.
Stephen Parker, Hart’s cabinet member for planning, said the council no longer believed the two sites were needed to meet new government building targets as the 1,000-home minitown planned for the former Gurkha barracks site in Church Crookham was progressing well.
“The brief for the Queen Elizabeth Barracks has been produced and responses from the consultation process are being assimilated,” said Cllr Parker.
Hart had recommended that development briefs be drawn up for the Dilly Lane and Hitches Lane sites as a contingency plan to ensure the council keeps control over the quality of development should the need to release the sites arise in the near future.
“At the time there appeared a real risk the government might require the release of the sites given the heightened concern over a shortfall in housing completions in Hart and elsewhere in Hampshire,” said Cllr Parker.
“However, the perceived threat of action has now receded and the view of the Government Office for the South-East is that it is now a matter for Hart to decide if and when additional sites should be released.
“There is no room for complacency here but there is no need to contemplate releasing these greenfield sites given current progress on bringing forward the Queen Elizabeth Barracks site.
“Therefore there is now no urgency to prepare develop-ment briefs for Dilly Lane or Hitches Lane and the head of environmental services does not propose to devote any staff time to them at the moment.”
The cabinet unanimously accepted a recommendation by Cllr Parker that no work be carried out on development briefs for the sites.
The news has delighted Conservative councillors Mark Fullbrook, who represents Hartley Wintney, and Sean Holden and Richard Hunt, who represent Fleet West. All three raised serious concerns about drawing up development briefs for the sites.
Cllr Fullbrook said the cabinet decision was a major victory for local people.
“I am delighted that the council has sent this clear and unambiguous message to developers,” he said.
“As things currently stand, the Conservative council sees no reason why either Dilly Lane or Hitches Lane should be concreted over.
“The developers would be well advised to go and try to build elsewhere.”