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Fury as 143-home plan for site off Snails Lane set for approval by New Forest District Council

PLANS to build 143 homes close to a popular nature reserve have been recommended for approval despite more than 500 people objecting.

Opponents of Gladman Developments Ltd’s outline application to develop land off Snails Lane at Blashford are furious at the prospect of proposals being approved at New Forest District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday 9th June.

One member of the Blashford Meadows Environmental Protection Group (BMEPG) told the A&T: "If this were to go ahead this would be a complete travesty of local democracy and NFDC’s planning department should hang their heads in shame."

East of the A338 Salisbury Road, it is Strategic Site 15 in NFDC’s Local Pan – a keystone document which sets out a vision for up to 10,000 homes across the district outside of the national park up until 2036. Within that, SS15 was earmarked for at least 100 homes.

The site at Snails Lane is subject to a plan for 143 homes (47773579)
The site at Snails Lane is subject to a plan for 143 homes (47773579)

Gladman has pledged 50% of the properties will be affordable, with public open space, sustainable drainage systems and two vehicular access points from Snails Lane and Salisbury Road, while a parcel of grazing land will be converted to form open grassland.

It has claimed the new homes would help tackle the current shortfall of accommodation, and offer "opportunities for biodiversity enhancements".

However, the site’s proximity to a watercourse known as Lin Brook, which connects into the River Avon and Blashford Lakes – a series of flooded former gravel pits now used for nature conservation, fishing, boating, water skiing and drinking water storage – has fuelled objectors.

They include TV naturalist Chris Packham, who highlighted Blashford Lakes was a Site of Special Scientific Interest popular with wildlife, including otters, oystercatchers, bats and over 100 species of birds.

Chris Packham is among the objectors to the scheme (47773582)
Chris Packham is among the objectors to the scheme (47773582)

Ellingham, Harbridge and Iblsey parish and Ringwood town councils are opposed, both raising concerns about the potential effect of new homes on the local infrastructure and Snails Lane, a private road used by commoners to drive livestock onto the New Forest.

Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Foundation Trust is also against, unless a financial contribution of £142,092 is made towards supporting health facilities in the area, while Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has warned it may have to let some houses burn down were a fire to break out.

As revealed by the A&T, chief fire officer Neil Odin has said crews may allow a "controlled burn" of some properties because any "fire water run off" containing foam from the hoses could pose a risk to protected species in the nearby lake.

In total 531 comments have been made; 529 are against and only one is in support.

But in a report to go before NFDC's planning committee, members are recommended to delegate authority to chief planning officer Claire Upton-Brown and permit the development.

That is on the basis of conditions, plus further assessments being carried out under the habitat regulations 2017 to consider the likely significant effects of phosphorous entering the River Avon SAC in consultation with Natural England and the completion of a Section 106 agreement.

"Overall, whilst a small part of the proposed development is contrary to policy, it is considered that it meets the three key objectives of sustainable development," the report authored by Richard Natt added.

"It would meet social objectives, by creating a safe, vibrant and healthy new community; and it would meet environmental objectives by securing a high quality built environment and by protecting and enhancing the natural environment."

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