THE second major hurdle in a developer’s plans to build 1,500 new homes and commercial properties on the Fawley power station site has been overcome after the national park authority gave its approval.
Yesterday the controversial proposals won the backing of New Forest district councillors.
Today, after a two-hour meeting, the NPA’s planning committee members voted eight to two in favour.
Around 470 of the homes in the near-£1bn scheme, which has been put forward by a consortium led by Fawley Waterside, will be affordable properties.
There will also be an underground car park with more than 2,000 spaces, a 98-metre-high landmark building replacing the former power station’s iconic chimney, a 150-bedroom hotel and boat stack to store up to 600 vessels.
The plan features almost 100,000 square metres of new commercial, civic and employment areas, along with public open space.
An urban forest which will be planted to create a buffer between the industrial and residential areas, and a canal would be formed to create a dock area and berthing facilities for leisure boats and yachts.
Due to its location, both NFDC and the NPA had to agree the outline planning applications for the whole project to go ahead.
On Tuesday the NPA planning committee met to discuss the part of the application in its area, which includes 120 homes and 1,000 square metres of new civic space with provision for a primary school, dependant on pupil yield from the new properties.
The application also includes the creation of a new access road from the B3053 and through the site, public open space and flood defences.
Planning officer Natalie Walter told the meeting that 50% of the homes on national park land – 60 properties – would be affordable. She said that although the area where the 120 dwellings would be built is part of a current site of interest for nature conservation, compensation for the loss of this area would be provided. Habitat enhancements include a saline lagoon and tidal creek.
Mitigation of the transport impact includes full funding of eight junction improvement measures as well as a contribution to improvements further north. A shared-use foot and cycle way to Holbury is also proposed.
Aldred Drummond of Fawley Waterside said: “Enormous care has gone in to preparing this application and your permission would be transformative, changing a vast, brutal power station into a town of beauty and enhancing this area of the Forest.”
A statement was read from objector to the plans, Shay Millgate, who said he spoke on behalf of 100 Calshot residents. He called the introduction of 120 households an urbanisation of a site of importance for natural conservation and said it would cause “untold disruption”.
Fellow objector Bernard Austin, representing Friends of the New Forest, said the development of a new town would have a “serious, detrimental and adverse” impact on the area. He added: “We should expect more from the authority whose remit is to protect the Forest.”
However, NPA member George Bisson proposed accepting the application.
He said: “I think it is very important [to say] that this was actually in the local plan and had a lot of consultation and discussion about the principle of this development and the local plan went through with the inspector.
“Overall, yes there are some problems but I think the benefits to the national park with the lagoon, the marshes and the access it will give people without damaging the fragile parts of the Forest would be an overall improvement.”
Fellow member Sue Bennison said: “This is a well-thought-out plan. There has been a lot of talk about the A326 and why this application isn’t changing it in its entirety, which is a completely unfair criticism, but there is £4.5m being put in by the applicant for this large, local, major scheme.
“I don’t feel this application should be held hostage for things happening on the A326. It may well be that when this application is built out it might increase traffic, but we’re talking over a huge number of years in advance.”