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Pressure group looks to raise awareness

A PRESSURE group is gearing up to raise awareness of what residents can do to oppose planning applications for the Manor Park Annexe site in Aldershot which are due to be decided in June.

Aldershot Manor Park Lobby for the Environment (AMPLE) will oppose the two applications, which are being considered separately - the first on June 12.

This deals with amending the number of homes to be built from 137 to 128, and changing their layout.

On July 24 the final decision on a second application regarding the controversial development plans, which have gone to appeal, will be made by the Environment Secretary.

AMPLE committee member Janet Leggett, of Church Lane East, is one of the eight people who set up the group following a public meeting in August last year which attracted more than 100 residents.

She said: "We are hoping that the inspector is going to see sense, that a development of this size is unsuitable.

"Our group has submitted a 51-page report pinpointing the problems we see with the site."

AMPLE has cited inadequate parking, overcrowding and building on greenfield land as just some of the reasons for the project not to go ahead.

Miss Leggett added: "We oppose the plans, which are modelled on a Dutch scheme. They are coming across as pedestrian-friendly but there is no footpath, just a road.

"I would be concerned to walk around anywhere that hasn't got footpaths these days.

"We think this is going to be detrimental to the area.

"The government has this idea that if people don't find parking they will give up their cars and pick up their bikes, like what has happened in Amsterdam.

"But let's be realistic, this is Aldershot — how many cyclists do we see in this area? And this development is to be built on top of a hill — I can't see many people turning to their bikes as an alternative."

Miss Leggett revealed the group will raise the point that the council calls the area a brownfield site, which she believes is not strictly the case.

She explained: "The Planning Policy Guidance for Housing (PPG3), which is a central government document, contains a definition of brownfield sites — that is previously used land that has already been built on.

"On this site, a significant portion of the land has not been built on. There are a lot of green areas and trees.

"We are hoping to voice our concerns at the appeal and this is something well worth challenging.

"If we can show it's not brownfield, then as is set out in the PPG3 it shouldn't be developed if there is other brownfield land available locally, and there is."

AMPLE has invited all residents to come to the playing field in Manor Park on June 8 at 10am to show their support.

Miss Leggett said: "We want people to know this is not a done deal and they can do something about it, so show your support and come along."

Our picture shows AMPLE protesters at the site.


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