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Campaign group opposing Sungrove Farm development blast Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

"Local opinion, supported by multiple, detailed arguments to the council, has been summarily ignored"

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby

jonathan.ashby@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886637

East Woodhay community group call on council to reverse farm decision

A CAMPAIGN group opposing the Sungrove Farm development in East End has accused Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council of ignoring the wishes of the parish.

In a development control committee meeting last week, councillors unanimously approved the conversion of a farmhouse on the land into a multi-purpose development.

This is despite East Woodhay Parish Council objecting to the scheme by a majority of six to one after the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) criticised the project for its impact on the countryside.

Following the decision, Friends of East End (FOEE) – which has opposed the development since it was first unveiled in 2019 – expressed its disappointment that the planning committee rejected the views of the parish council and the AONB, as well as “180 letters, the large majority of which came from within the parish”.

A spokesman said: “We do feel that democracy has been badly served in this case. Local opinion, supported by multiple, detailed arguments to the council, has been summarily ignored.

“No time was allocated after the presentations for either side to challenge statements by the other.

“Thus, planning decisions are being hijacked through lack of proper scrutiny.”

The group said they felt “aggrieved” at the “failure of the committee” to consider arguments put forward, such as the impact on the area’s dark skies and inability of the road network to cope.

It also accused borough councillor for East Woodhay Clive Sanders, who spoke at the meeting in favour of the scheme, of “promoting his personal view instead of that of the parish council and the majority of his constituents”.

The spokesman added: “It will have a major impact not just on the hamlet, but on the lives of the many people who live on or close to the narrow roads which lead to it.”

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Article comments

  • O'Shaughnessy

    22/01/2021 - 19:28

    It’s not just Cllr Sanders, the Parish planning team voted to oppose Sungrove but were overturned by Cllr Mitchell’s double-vote. From 2015 he’s been trying to use the Neighbourhood Plan to benefit sports clubs. In 2016 wanted it used to acquire land for football and cricket clubs – his EW2020 Vision project for a £10m multi-sport venue in the AONB. Site 6 was opposite Sungrove, at the cricket club (President, Cllr Mitchell). EW2020 fed into the Neighbourhood Plan in July 2017. Quite how the NP team knows we want this venue isn’t clear because, after seven years, it has not held one public meeting, hasn’t published minutes, drafts or proposals. Basingstoke planners had a current draft of that plan and “Policy” referred to it. Locals can’t see it despite it being a living document which should reflect local views. If it tells Basingstoke the community wants a giant sports and leisure complex in East End we should know that. Whatever it actually says,publishing a draft might be sensible.

    Reply

    • James MItchell

      James MItchell

      25/01/2021 - 15:52

      Dear Mr O'Shaughnessy You are looking for issues in the shadows here that do not exist. As I have offered to others in the past I am more than happy and welcome to discuss opinions and decisions. Should you so desire to have a conversation please do contact me via the East Woodhay Parish web site. Kind regards, James Mitchell

      Reply

      • O'Shaughnessy

        25/01/2021 - 16:57

        The result of you voting twice to overturn the Planning Committee's recommendation to object, was referred to by the applicants as evidence of Parish support from the outset, undermining the PC’s change of heart following a re-vote at which you declared a conflict of interest you had not declared before. The shadows are entirely of the PC’s creation -your EW2020 sub-committee never published minutes and two clerks denied it had any connection to the PC. Emails to the PC get insults and gaslighting. The solution to a lack of public consultation is for the PC to publish what it does. EW2020 planned to use Neighbourhood Plan to acquire land for a £10m sports project. The NP is still in the shadows: no minutes, plans, projects or proposals after seven years of work and £11k of consultants input. Your 2019 APM report did not refer to the sale of Charities Land; your 2012 public, minuted, promise of public consultation on the future of the Parish Field at Woolton Hill remains unfulfilled.

        Reply