The insurance giant, Zurich Assurance has announced the sale of the 4,200 acre Sutton Scotney Estate.
Since 1990 Eagle Star Insurance, now part of Zurich Assurance, has been trying to get planning permission to build a new town of 12,500 houses on the Hampshire Downs around Micheldever Station. Following overwhelming opposition from local people, supported by decision-makers right through to the highest level, the project has been rejected time and again. In 2007 it was again reincarnated as an “eco-town”, and in 2014 it was finally thrown out in the High Court.
It was not just a case of local people fighting a massive development on their doorstep; the whole future of this part of Hampshire was at stake. With a major development at Micheldever, there would eventually have been almost continuous development from Basingstoke to Southampton, destroying the character of a large part of this beautiful county. Furthermore, it would have had an adverse economic impact on neighbouring towns such as Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester.
With the active participation of people locally, regionally and nationally, the Dever Society has maintained and coordinated a huge campaign over many years. Together with the support of local councillors, county councillors, local MPs and the professionals in the council, we have been successful. We are enormously grateful to the many people who have helped to bring this about and we are delighted that Zurich has finally decided to sell up.
The risk remains that a new owner of the estate might try to revive the new town idea. Zurich’s sales particulars for the estate mention “development potential”. However, Zurich also retain a claw-back clause on any future development, so the incentive for any new owner to revive the new town idea is limited. Any new owner should be aware that the Dever Society is still here, and we will fight as hard as ever should the new town idea again rear its ugly head.
Image from Farmers Weekly http://www.fwi.co.uk/