The Revised Local Plan for the borough was approved for submission to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government at a full Council meeting on Thursday 24 July. It is expected that the plan will be submitted by the end of the month.
The plan has been the subject of public consultation on three occasions with comments being taken online, by email and post. The consultation also included public exhibitions with an opportunity to talk directly to Council planning officers.
The Revised Local Plan proposes the building of 588 homes per year in Test Valley for the 18 year plan period, of which 200 homes would be affordable. The proposed site allocations in the plan are in addition to the homes already built or with planning permission granted since 2011.
The allocations in southern Test Valley are: Whitenap, Romsey, 1,300 dwellings; Hoe Lane, North Baddesley, 300 dwellings and land at Stoneham, 50 dwellings. The overall figure for southern Test Valley remains largely unchanged from the previous draft plan.
In northern Test Valley, 400 additional dwellings are proposed for Picket Piece and 300 east of Picket Twenty. This additional housing is necessary to meet the employment needs of local businesses to support growth in Andover.
These housing figures achieve sustainable development, while recognising the future housing needs of the borough and meeting the Government’s drive for growth.
The plan also includes provision for employment development at Nursling, Romsey, Chilworth and Andover. The Council continues to protect the environment of the borough through the designation of local gaps and residential areas of special character.
Councillor Martin Hatley, Planning and Transport Portfolio Holder, said: “I am pleased that Council voted in favour of submitting the Revised Local Plan to the Secretary of State. Inevitably there will be those who consider the plan in its current form as unacceptable and I understand their position. However, it is now time to put the plan to the test. A great deal of effort has gone into the technical work underpinning the plan and into the three rounds of public consultation. I am confident that this will stand us in good stead when the plan is examined by the Planning Inspector.
“In preparing the document the Council has had to make some difficult decisions. It has considered all the comments made during consultation, sought advice from consultants and statutory consultees and taken into account local evidence and the Government’s advice on planning policy.
“The plan seeks to achieve that difficult balance between protecting the environment of the borough, while recognising the need to provide homes for our residents in sustainable locations and support the local economy. Having an approved local plan also strengthens our position to defend Test Valley from speculative planning applications and provides the foundation on which all planning decisions in the borough will be taken. “
The local plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State who will appoint an independent Planning Inspector to consider the soundness of the plan. Once appointed the process and timetable will be set by the Planning Inspector. It is anticipated that the public session to test the soundness of the local plan would be held in the autumn.