Whitenap homes should be 'stand alone village'

IF 1,300 homes must be built on the outskirts of Romsey attempts to integrate them with the town should be scrapped and the development should go ahead as a separate village.

That’s the view of Mark Cooper, who represents the town at county, borough and parish level, reacting to Test Valley’s Draft Local Plan.

Mr Cooper’s calls for an “Ashfield Village” are a reaction to news that the revised plan does not include a road bridge across the railway line linking the proposed Whitenap development to Romsey. Instead there is a footbridge.

“The revised layout doesn’t integrate, so let’s call a spade a spade and call it a village – Ashfield,” says Mr Cooper.

He has drawn up a new plan which includes, a school, village shop, cycle ways and pedestrian paths.

Mr Cooper explains in a letter to townspeople that he is still opposed to homes at Whitenap but if he is defeated, this “Plan B” would get the “best deal possible” for Tadburn Road residents and others living close to the proposed development.

He said that he had spent a lot of time during the last few months speaking with fellow Tadburn ward borough councillor Peter Hurst, the Romsey and District Society, and Romsave, a group set up to protect the town from overdevelopment.

His alternative plan shifts the Whitenap development southwards leaving a green gap between Tadburn Road and the proposed new homes.

Road access to the site would be from the southern end near the existing Ashfield roundabout.

Mr Cooper also has visions of a new park in the development and employment facilities south of Beggarspath Wood along Luzborough Lane (A27).

The Draft Local Plan has received 1,700 comments from the public, with 1,100 of them objecting to the Whitenap scheme.

It will be debated by the borough’s cabinet next Wednesday (December 18).

Proposed housing numbers remain unchanged for the Whitenap site, but officers have moved the development further south, though not as far as Mr Cooper would like.

It still includes 300 new homes at Hoe Lane in North Baddesley.

The plan proposes the building of 588 homes per year in Test Valley for the 18- year plan period, of which 200 homes would be affordable.

Employment facilities are also planned at Bargain Farm and south of Brownhill Way, at Nursling, the University of Southampton Science Park in Chilworth and Whitenap in Romsey.

Borough cabinet spoke-sman for planning, Martin Hatley, said: “The plan is an essential tool to meet the borough’s housing needs, support the local economy and deliver affordable housing.

“There are many local families on our waiting lists that need affordable housing. Some 40 per cent of the proposed new housing will be affordable. Improving access to a decent home is a key concern of residents.”

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