Planners throw out ‘overcrowded’ town centre homes proposal

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Fordingbridge plan refused
Members of New Forest District Council’s planning committee turned down the application

NEW FOREST councillors refused a bid for eight homes in the centre of Fordingbridge amid criticism they were “crammed” in without enough parking.

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Sixteen members on New Forest District Council’s planning committee voted against Crownshade Ltd’s bid for two terraces of three houses, a detached house and the use of an outbuilding as a dwelling at 1-3 Provost Street. Eight parking spaces were also planned.

To facilitate the development, which stands within the town’s conservation area, two bungalows and an outbuilding would be removed, as would much of the vegetation currently on the site.

Voting to refuse, members sided with a recommendation by their own officers and against claims by Fordingbridge Town Council it was a “good compromise”.

Town council chair Cllr Mike Jackson said: “We are all looking for places near to the centre where people do not have to travel very far. This also provides parking, a controversial subject to us.

“A number of residential developments have been granted over the years above shops with no parking provision.”

However, his reasoning gained the support of only one member, Liberal Democrat Cllr Malcolm Wade. He said it was “appropriate” and helped plug a lack of local housing.

“If we do not build anything because of the road system we won’t build anything. Let’s be realistic,” Cllr Wade said.

“I tend to listen to local people, it’s one of the things I do, and one of the issues they raise is we need to build more houses,” Cllr Wade continued.

He added there would not be as many cars on the road if more properties were constructed in and around town centres.

However, a number of committee members rounded on the plan, criticising the lack of parking and warning of the impact the development would have on the conservation area.

Cllr Maureen Holding pointed out most households have more than one car, and said: “There’s too much housing – it’s crammed in there.”

Cllr Alan Glass thought the plan was guilty of “overcrowding”, while Cllr Anne Sevier said it needed refinement.

“I think it could do with a little more thought. You could do quite a lot with this site,” she said. “The issue is parking. The road outside is a B-road, a main road that goes through Fordingbridge and you cannot have any more cars parked on that road.”

Cllr Fran Carpenter added: “I just think that to lose units would be better. As for conservation areas, they are special and I think we can do better for Fordingbridge.”

During the debate members questioned whether the planning agent, Jerry Davies Planning Consultancy, had engaged with NFDC officers and addressed concerns.

Responding, Mr Davies said he had engaged repeatedly for more than two years, although the parties had not come to a view acceptable to both.

He highlighted the density was relatively low for a town-centre site and warned the eight-home aspect of the plan was based on the developer’s calculations as to the “viability” of building there.

“This provides modest, accessible, varied homes appropriate to Fordingbridge in an accessible location,” Mr Davies insisted.

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