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'We have ruined the setting' – 63-home development at Fordingbridge given the go-ahead

Metis Homes has been given the go-ahead to build 63 homes on land in Fordingbridge
Metis Homes has been given the go-ahead to build 63 homes on land in Fordingbridge

A 63-HOME development in Fordingbridge was given the green light, despite providing well below the required number of affordable houses and “ruining the setting” of the area.

Metis Homes’ bid for land known as Burgate Acres, was unanimously approved by New Forest District Council’s planning committee, despite concerns over nearby Grade-II listed homes.

“I do think, from a conservation point of view, we have ruined the setting of those wonderful thatched buildings,” Cllr Maureen Holding said.

“We are having to face the fact that the beautiful, quintessential village we have at Fordingbridge is repeatedly disappearing and this is because of the Local Plan.

“We had absolutely no other options [to put together a Local Plan] because if it wasn’t done we would have something imposed on us that was even worse.”

The Metis site covers nearly four hectares on the northern edge of Fordingbridge, accessed via the A338 Salisbury Road. The housing mix includes four one-bedroom units, 26 two-beds, 23 three-beds and 10 four-beds.

Proposals includes demolishing the existing £1m Burgate Acres home, the creation of a new access via Salisbury Road to the east, a roundabout, parking, landscaping and open space with a dedicated dog exercise area, wildflower meadow and informal “grass kick-about” spot.

The land is part of site 18 in NFDC’s Local Plan – which sets out areas that will be developed locally with 10,000 new homes up to 2036.

Three sections of site 18 are due to be developed with at least 400 homes, and two other developers, one of which is Pennyfarthing Homes, have interests in the site.

Originally, Metis proposed 74 homes, with half being affordable, but that has been scaled back and the revised plan for 63 homes features just 14 affordable properties – which is 22% of the approved total and well below the 50% that should be provided as laid out in planning policy.

However, members of the New Forest District Council planning committee were told this amount was acceptable because the previous plan had “significant issues”.

These centred around the design, number of buildings and their density, and how close some buildings were to the eastern boundary; the latest plan, it was agreed, solved a number of these.

Revisions to the design of the buildings and the increased costs associated with that, along with the reduction in units, had affected the viability of the development and it was deemed understandable the 50% affordable designation could not be achieved.

The nearby Burgate School will be served by an improved access from the south utilising the current slip road leading to the turning circle.

The existing bus lane which connects the turning circle with the A338 will be closed, and instead a one way access linking the turning circle with the new residential estate road will be installed. The school will also benefit from a new drop-off layby on the slip road to the school.

But the traffic proposals were criticised by a number of the 52 local residents who were opposed – with some worried the local infrastructure would not cope with the influx of new homes.

They hit out at plans for two junctions leading out of the development onto the road and alterations to Salisbury Road to allow proposed entry onto the development, claiming it would result in long tailbacks. One town councillor said it was an “accident waiting to happen”.

Another huge concern for locals was flooding risks, but officers said they would be solved with huge, modern soakaways built to withstand the equivalent of a one-in-1,000-year storm equivalent.

The assurances persuaded the 15-strong NFDC planning committee. “I think it’s as good as we are going to get,” Cllr Arthur Davies said. “Viability and affordable homes is not the best we know, but one size does not fit all and we have to look at the whole story.”

Local ward member Cllr Anne Sevier was in favour and pledged to keep lobbying for issues with drainage and pipework in the village.

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