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Controversial plans to build hundreds of homes in North Hampshire village submitted

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Controversial housing plans which could transform the nature of Bishops Green have now been submitted.

Land promoter Catesby Estates has put in an outline planning application to build up to 350 homes on College Copse Fields, on the east side of Ecchinswell Road – turning the village from an “incidental settlement” into a “sustainable village community”.

The application reveals there would be two entrances to the site – one on the north side of the village and the other at the existing entrance to the Bishops Green campsite – joined by an access road through the proposed settlement.

The proposed layout of the site in Bishops Green. (54014975)
The proposed layout of the site in Bishops Green. (54014975)

Forty per cent of the homes would be designated as ‘affordable’, while the scheme would also provide a community hub, play areas and would retain the existing woodland.

In the design and access statement, Catesby Estates said the scheme would “create a high-quality neighbourhood” that “promotes health and well being".

It said: “College Copse Fields provides a real opportunity to provide complementary community facilities to embrace a sustainable lifestyle and provide an enhanced level of sustainability for the entire community of Bishops Green.”

An artist's impression of the development. (54014977)
An artist's impression of the development. (54014977)

It added that around £50m would be invested into construction of the scheme, with around £4m going to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as a Community Infrastructure Levy, to be put towards infrastructure and community services in the borough.

The planning application has long been in the offing, with Catesby Estates – which intends to market the site to housebuilders if it gets planning permission – already having conducted consultations with the local parish council, distributed leaflets to residents throughout 2020 and 2021 and held three meetings with Ken Rhatigan, the leader of the borough council, over the scheme.

The parish council has already voiced its opposition, and at a parish council meeting in December 2020, concerned locals lined up to slam the proposals.

The proposed site in Bishops Green. (50621624)
The proposed site in Bishops Green. (50621624)

Robert Mallinson said: “I’m shocked at what’s been shown this evening – it looks like it’s going to devastate our area if it were to proceed.”

Mr Mallinson added that the increase in cars on Ecchinswell Road would cause “serious, serious problems” and said he already didn’t “feel safe” running over the bridge during the day due to the traffic and speeding problems.

Another resident, Ade, said the scheme would “completely mar” the reasons for buying their house in Bishops Green.

The proposed site in Bishops Green. (50621632)
The proposed site in Bishops Green. (50621632)

Following the consultations, Catesby Estates revised the size of the development – reducing it from 400 to 350 homes.

The proposals, which were originally unveiled in 2020, came out of the blue for both the parish council and the borough council as the site isn’t in the most recent version of the borough council’s Local Plan, which guides where housing developments are built in the borough.

The council is currently in the process of updating this plan, and has been tasked by central Government with building around 17,800 homes over the next 18 years.

The lack of this completed Local Plan Update and a five-year housing and land supply means the borough is currently vulnerable to sizeable planning applications for greenfield sites, and the Bishops Green scheme is one of several across the north of the borough.

Last month, North West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse said in a letter to a resident concerned over a similar scheme in Wash Water that there was a “number of speculative applications across the area” due to the lack of the Local Plan Update, as developers “see a window which they are rushing to exploit”.

This application will now go to the borough council for consideration.

To view the plans, head to the council’s planning portal and enter the reference 21/03598/OUT.

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