The Dever Society1 has criticised Eagle Star for continuing to promote its “ridiculous and inappropriate” scheme for a new town in the open countryside near Micheldever2 , despite an overwhelming lack of support.
Eagle Star will be represented this Thursday and Friday at the Examination in Public (EIP) into the draft Southeast Plan’s3 proposals for the ‘Rest of Hampshire’4 area. According to the papers it has already submitted to the EIP, the company, owned by insurance giant Zurich, plans to make the same arguments in favour of a new town at Micheldever that it has been making for the last 16 years.
“Eagle Star’s proposals have been rejected over and over again since they first proposed them in 1990 in an attempt to make good a £400 million loss,” said Dever Society vice-chairman Tessa Robertson. “Hampshire’s local authorities are well aware that development at Micheldever on this scale would have disastrous consequences on the economic well-being of the nearby towns of Basingstoke and Winchester, and would undermine growth and regeneration in South Hampshire. It would also increase commuting and lead to even greater congestion on the M3 and other roads leading into Basingstoke, Winchester and beyond.”
Eagle Star will also argue at the EIP that development at Micheldever would be a more sustainable option than current proposals for major housing areas in Fareham and Hedge End. Both Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council have comprehensively rejected this argument. The councils will be represented at the EIP on Thursday and Friday, and will reiterate their continued opposition to Eagle Star’s plans.
“Despite spending millions over the last 16 years, Eagle Star’s arguments have failed to persuade local authorities, Hampshire’s MPs or successive Secretaries of State that a new town at Micheldever would the best way to address Hampshire’s housing needs or benefit the county generally”, said the Society’s chairman, Richard Cowen. “It is time they accepted this, and gave up their ridiculous and inappropriate scheme.”
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 the countryside in this part of Hampshire. In particular, it is concerned with the conservation and enhancement of the Hampshire Downs, which comprise the county’s rural heartland. The Downs provide a unique and valued resource for those who visit and enjoy the countryside, as well as forming an essential feature of the agricultural economy of the county.The Society has a large and rapidly growing membership, drawn not only from those who live in the Dever Valley, but also from a wide area of Hampshire and elsewhere in Britain.
- Eagle Star launched its scheme for a new town at Micheldever in 1990, to be called ‘Micheldever Station Market Town’. 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 just over 38,000.
- The Southeast Plan provides the blueprint for development in the south east region for the period 2006 to 2026. An Examination in Public into the draft Plan is currently being carried out by a panel of inspectors and is due to end in March 2007. The draft Plan proposes that development be concentrated in a number of sub-regions; these have been selected for their strong economic potential, taking into consideration particular needs for regeneration. Two sub-regions have been proposed for Hampshire: the Western Corridor (which includes Basingstoke and some surrounding areas) and South Hampshire, which stretches from Romsey in the west to Havant in the east.
- The Rest of Hampshire’ area includes the parts of Hampshire that fall outside the two proposed sub-regions, ie Central Hampshire (including Winchester and Micheldever), the New Forest and the Isle of Wight. The EIP panel will be hearing representations on the Rest of Hampshire area on 25 and 26 January at the Chichester Park Hotel, Westhampnett, Chichester.
The Dever Society: 01962 774040
Tessa Robertson: 01962 774690
Mobile: 07714 759517