THE final properties in a nearly 200-home development on the edge of Ringwood have been given the go-ahead.
Linden Homes gained approval for the mix of 20 flats and houses from New Forest District Council’s planning committee – despite the authority’s own design and landscape teams criticising the scheme as overcrowded and out of character.
The wider area stretches from just south of Crow Arch Lane northwards to Hightown Gardens, and was originally approved in outline for 175 homes.
But through a series of fresh applications Linden Homes managed to swap in smaller dwellings to free up space in the south-west corner for 20 extra properties, delivering 195 in total of which most are under now construction.
Officers recommended approval for this final tranche concluding that, on balance, the development – which had been scaled back from 24 homes – would cause “no significant harm”.
However, the addition was fiercely opposed by Ringwood Town Council which said it would be too crowded. Half the homes will be one and two-bedroom affordable units but members said they should all be that size to meet local demand.
Town councillor Philip Day said: “What’s happened is that Linden Homes has struggled to shift the four to five-bedroom homes [in the wider site] and now have crammed in two to three-bedroom homes.”
Speaking for the housebuilder, Nigel Pugsley said the company had taken the “opportunity” to develop more smaller homes.
The design reflected the 480 homes allocated in principle on land south of Crow Arch Lane by NFDC in its draft Local Plan, he added, which includes space for sports facilities, public open space and a primary school.
He also pointed out the planning agreement would require Linden Homes to manage a section of the Castleman Trailway, a 16.5-mile walking route between Ringwood and Poole which passes underneath the humpback bridge on Crow Arch Lane.
However, Cllr Fran Carpenter pointed to criticisms by NFDC’s design officers and also called for green measures to be added, such as solar panels.
She said: “We should be demanding much higher standards especially when they are going to be denser. The quality must be there as well as quantity. I worry for our other Local Plan sites if we allow this one through.”
She was backed by Cllr Hilary Brand, who described the development as an example of “building the same old thing as we have been for the last 30-40 years”.
But Cllr Malcolm Wade countered: “We have a shortage of affordable housing. We’re not making enough. There’s a huge housing development here – I see no reason not to support the officers on this. We have got to be pragmatic. We will not get enough housing if everywhere looks like Paris.”
Cllr Allan Glass added: “We need housing, not everyone needs huge houses. This has a good mixture of smaller houses. I will support it because it’s next to an urban development and in the best place for it.”
A proposal by Cllr Carpenter for refusal was defeated by 11 votes to three and permission subsequently granted by 11 votes to two.