Stuck truck fires up campaign against 100-home development plan

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The truck went into a ditch in Ridgeway Lane, Pennington

A COUNCIL truck that got wedged in a ditch on a narrow road in Lymington proves the danger of allowing 100 homes to be built there, say campaigners.

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The New Forest District Council vehicle became stuck in Ridgeway Lane near where the authority has allocated green belt land for major development in its draft Local Plan.

The proposal is being objected to by residents who warn the area’s roads are too small to cope with so much extra housing.

The NFDC truck fell into the ditch as it tried to avoid a car coming in the opposite direction, reported residents who said it was just the latest example of this kind of incident.

Sue Potts, secretary of the Pennington and Lymington Lanes Society (PALLS), said: “These lanes are simply not wide enough for vehicles to pass without giving way and slowing right down.

“I feel for the driver but dread to think what would have happened if a cyclist or pedestrian had been passing at the time.

“Clearly this doesn’t concern the district council at all who are determined to add the traffic from at least 100 new houses onto these rural lanes without any consideration for pedestrian safety.”

NFDC’s draft Local Plan proposes space for about 10,500 new homes in the district outside the national park by 2036, including areas of green belt such as between Ridgeway Lane and Lower Pennington Lane.

The PALLS group organised a protest march there last year, while Oakhaven Hospice has warned the development could spoil the peace it offers its dying patients.

NFDC leader Cllr Barry Rickman said it was “wrong” to involve an accident in a planning debate and told the A&T: “Some allocations of land are very difficult but we’re having to provide the numbers we’re being asked by the government.

“Everybody is a little bit nimby but the lanes in the New Forest are also a problem as well, with trucks and cars. It’s got nothing to do with development, it’s just the modern world.”

He added: “We have people crying out for homes.”

NFDC’s draft Local Plan states that the access from Ridgeway Lane would require visibility and safety to be addressed by any developer.

It adds that proposals must respect the “rural edge character” of the location, with green space at their heart, buffers of trees and hedgerows and bungalow-style homes near the hospice to safeguard its peace.

PALLS chair Bruce Tindall said: “The district council say that this site is able to provide safe access but this incident demonstrates otherwise. The site is allocated for a minimum of 100 houses but that is likely to be just the start.

“And what’s going to happen to the many other users of the lanes, recreational walkers, cyclists, mobility scooters and all? We presume the district council expect them to share the ditch with the trucks. It’s nothing short of madness.”

The draft Local Plan will be assessed in public over several weeks between June and July by two government-appointed planning inspectors at NFDC’s Appletree Court HQ in Lyndhurst.

They will come back with any changes that are required before signing off the final document later in the year.

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