Developers eyeing up land told to do their ‘homework’ by concerned council

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Cllr Philip Day
Deputy mayor Cllr Philip Day spoke out at a town council meeting at the Ringwood Gateway

DEVELOPERS bidding to build almost 1,200 homes in Ringwood were urged to do more “homework” by the deputy mayor who said they lack basic knowledge about their target land.

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Cllr Philip Day also revealed his surprise at developers not informing the town council it intended to build on land it owns and mooting to move the football club to Carvers Recreation Ground.

The criticism followed Cllr Day attending the public examination of New Forest District Council’s Local Plan. It is a document that sets out NFDC’s preferences as to how local sites – including some in the green belt – should be developed with up to 10,600 houses until 2036.

In Ringwood it suggests two sites be earmarked; site 13 concerns land to the north of Moortown Lane, while site 14 lies north of Hightown Road and its northern part borders the A31.

NFDC has recommended site 13 be developed with more than 400 homes and site 14 with 250. However, the developers propose much higher numbers; up to 750 for site 13 and 400 for site 14.

There remained a host of concerns that centred not only the number of homes proposed and the effects that could have on local infrastructure, but also on the construction, Cllr Day said.

Cllr Philip Day
Ringwood deputy mayor Cllr Philip Day

He stressed how it was stated by Wessex Water that Ringwood’s sewerage system has reached maximum capacity – but the developers were unaware of that at the examination.

Taylor Wimpey, the developer of site 14, said the firm wanted to start building homes there by 2021, while developer behind the other site want to commence in 2026.

Cllr Day reported the developers suggested they would solve the sewerage problem by building holding tanks before a newer system could be installed. However, Cllr Day pointed out holding tanks had already been built under Bickerley Green.

There were already big drainage problems at both sites 13 and 14, Cllr Day said, yet the plans did not indicate how those would be solved satisfactorily. The plans suggested £350,000 was set aside to solve sewerage problems, which was “a bit low” to afford an entire new system.

“There is more homework to be done,” Cllr Day said. “I think one or two people in respect of site 14 might have left that day and said ‘Oh Pooh Bear’ or words to that respect.”

He also pointed out Taylor Wimpey’s plan clashed with Highways England’s proposed plan to widen the A31, which is expected to cause traffic disruption for months in and around Ringwood.

At the examination, the developer said Highways England knew of its plan, Cllr Day said – however, the town council had since established the traffic authority did not.

It had also been suggested a road be built by both developments to the new Crow Arch Lane development – which features more than 200 homes and lies in between sites 13 and 14.

Philip Day
The meeting heard of plans to build a “bypass” close to the recently completed Beaumont Park development

That would create a “bypass” through Ringwood, Cllr Day said, which in respect of congestion could prove a “double-edged sword”. Cllr Day, who chairs the town council’s planning committee, added: “It could help the town centre – the other areas around Ringwood, maybe less so.”

One surprising part of the examination was Pennyfarthing revealing it has a legal interest in site 13, seeking to include previously deleted fields from the plan south of Moortown Lane – which includes Ringwood Football Club and Bernie Guy field. The latter is owned by Ringwood Town Council.

Cllr Day said the town council had been unaware its land would be featured.

He speculated the reason the developers wanted more land included was because it could be designated as a Site of Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG), meaning the land north would not have to feature a SANG and more homes could be crammed onto it, Cllr Day added.

It would also necessitate the moving of the Liberty and Raptor Centre – although it did not specify an alternative location – and Ringwood Football Club, which would likely go to Carvers.

However, members were opposed to that. Cllr Day added: “Ringwood, in terms of its population, is well short of recreation ground; it needs more, not less.”

Judicial Review Warning

A PRESSURE group warned it will launch a judicial review against plans to develop site 14 if Taylor Wimpey maintains its intention to feature the public-space land closer to the A31.

Andrew Graham, from A Better Ringwood, said the group acknowledged there would be houses built there and wanted that to happen “as quickly as possible”.

But it would be prepared to delay the process should the developer fail to climb down on its current intentions to locate the public space to the north of the site.

A Better Ringwood argues it should go at the opposite end to maintain picturesque views of the site, retain the Elm Tree Pub pub – a Grade II listed building – and comply with laws surrounding green space.

Mr Graham also pointed out animals, such as deer, are frequent visitors to the site, so having the green space area further from the main commuter route would promote traffic safety.

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