“The same, tired old scheme, but with an opportunist edge” – that was the response of the Dever Society’s vice-chairman, Tessa Robertson, to Eagle Star’s latest bid to promote a new town at Micheldever Station2.
The company’s proposals came in response to the Government’s eco-towns initiative3, which calls for ten new towns as part of its national target to build 3 million new homes by 2026.
“Eagle Star’s submission is a cynical re-hash of the failed scheme it’s been promoting for the last 17 years,” says Tessa Robertson. “This latest proposal would destroy some 1,250 acres of beautiful Hampshire downland. With 12,500 new homes and a population of around 30,000 people, the new town would rival Andover, with 39,000 residents, and Winchester, which has 42,000.”
The proposals fly in the face of a recent report from the panel of inspectors that reviewed the South East Plan4, which roundly rejected the principle of a large new town at Micheldever. The inspectors stressed that such a town would become a focus for long-distance commuting, and divert resources from planned regeneration projects in other parts of the county5.
Winchester City Council strongly opposes the creation of a new town at Micheldever6, and their stance is supported by the surrounding local authorities, Hampshire County Council and every local MP.
“Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has stressed the importance of involving local people in the development of new eco-towns7,” says Tessa Robertson. “We agree – and the Dever Society will work with locally elected representatives to fight off this latest threat from Eagle Star.
“Now, more than ever, we need to rally support from everyone who wants to help protect our local environment. Membership of the Society is free; just ring 01962 774040 for details, or visit our website at www.deversociety.org ”
More follows …
Notes for Editors
- The Dever Society is an amenity society for the Hampshire Downs and the Dever Valley, and is a registered charity affiliated to the Civic Trust. The Society’s principal objective is to conserve, protect and celebrate Hampshire’s rural heartland.The Society has a membership of over 7,000, drawn from a wide area of Hampshire and elsewhere in Britain.
- Eagle Star first launched its scheme for a new ‘Micheldever Station Market Town’ in 1990. Its original proposal was for a 5,000 dwelling town with its centre at Micheldever Station, housing around 12,500 people. Since then its plans have grown steadily, and the current proposal stands at 12,500 homes, with a population of over 30,000. By comparison, the population of Winchester city is around 42,000.
- Eco-towns will be small new towns of at least 5,000-20,000 homes. They are intended to exploit the potential for complete new ‘zero-carbon’ developments – and, where opportunities exist, schemes should make use of suitable surplus public sector or brownfield land.The Government’s eco-towns prospectus, published in July 2007, can be downloaded from http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/ecotownsprospectus
- The South East Plan will provide the blueprint for development in the south east region for the period 2006 to 2026. An Examination in Public into the draft Plan was carried out by a panel of inspectors earlier this year, and their report was published on 29 August 2007.
- Rejecting Eagle Star’s proposals for Micheldever, para 26.33 of the inspectors’ report stated: “Micheldever would have a significant impact … by diverting resources away from the sub-regions and undermining the regeneration aims for South Hampshire.” The inspectors also considered that any new settlement at Micheldever “would become a focus for long-distance commuting, not a sustainable community.”Visit http://www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/southeastplan/plan/inspectors_report.html to read the full report.
- Winchester City Council leader Cllr George Beckett has expressed ‘astonishment’ at Eagle Star’s proposals. The City Council’s full response is published at http://www.winchester.gov.uk/news/NewsArticle.asp?id=SX9452-A783A6A1
- In a Communities and Local Government news release dated 30 October 2007, Yvette Cooper said: “We need to deliver the best eco-towns for the sake of the planet and the next generation. However, we don’t want each town to be the same, but to instead reflect the history, aspirations and character of each local area. This is why it is crucial that we involve local people and citizen juries are a great way of doing just that.”The release is available at http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/528791
The Dever Society: 01962 774040
Tessa Robertson: 01962 774690
Mobile: 07714 759517