Eric Pickles approves Barton Farm homes plan


Friday 5th October 2012

The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles this week announced his decision to approve an appeal by Cala Homes to develop 2,000 new homes at the Barton Farm site on the outskirts of Winchester, despite some opposition to the scheme.

In 2010 Winchester City Council rejected a planning application from Cala Homes on the grounds that the development was premature and that the volume of new homes was not yet required in the area.

Mr Pickles initially supported the council's rejection of the project, but has this week been forced reverse the decision and approve the scheme based on the planning inspectorate's recommendation to approve the development, after the initial rejection was deemed unlawful.

The 33.4 acre Barton Farm site will now be transformed into a new community including new homes, including affordable homes, as well as a care home, retail and office space.

Local MP Steve Brine, who has fought hard to block the planned scheme from going ahead, has expressed his disappointment that the large-scale development will now go-ahead.

"This is a bitterly disappointing decision from the coalition government. Cala Homes have very deep pockets and have relentlessly pursued Winchester over many years until they got what they wanted. Because of the appeal system it was always possible they'd win one day and today it looks like they have.

"Assuming Barton Farm is developed, 2,000 houses on this site will in my opinion ultimately make the city a less comfortable place to live. We will get used to it, and not too many years from now we'll no doubt struggle to remember how it looked before, but a special piece of the landscape setting of Winchester will be gone forever.

"As I have always maintained, I will now engage positively with Cala to ensure they live up to their promises and give us the high quality development promised. I will also be keeping very close tabs on the affordable element of the housing to see if it really does deliver new homes for local people and dramatically reduce the council waiting list."

Development firm Cala Homes said it welcomed the appeal decision and was now looking forward to pressing ahead with plans to ‘deliver a high quality development'.

Robert Millar, group land director of Cala Homes, said: "Coming so soon on the back of stimulus packages designed to support the construction industry, we feel this decision provides a major boost to the entire housebuilding sector and reaffirms the coalition's stance on the role the housebuilding industry can play in supporting a wider economic recovery."

"Local people will benefit greatly from this decision. It will be a major contributor to stimulating the local economy and creating long term jobs. Furthermore, it will make a significant contribution to the chronic shortage of affordable housing enabling key workers and other local people to live in their own City. We will shortly be examining the detailed design for each of the phases in line with our masterplan to ensure that much needed housing is delivered as soon as possible."

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