“Lying” row over ripped-out hedgerows and cut-down trees in Knowle for Welborne development

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A row has broken out over the road which will go through the middle of the new 6,000-home Welborne development.

A parish councillor representing the village of Knowle, in the Winchester district, stormed out of Fareham Borough Council planning meeting saying ‘it’s complete lies, shocking’ after being called ‘naive.’

While the Fareham planning meeting praised the Wellborne developer’s substation innovation, its design code and the street manual for the new town, it ignored a neighbouring village’s pleas to preserve 30 acres of hedgerows and ecology as promised.

In a heated exchange over trees and hedgerows being ripped out, the committee were invited by parish councillor Craig Manuel to visit Knowle and see Knowle Road but the offer was ignored.

The Knowle Road is the village’s sole entrance and exit to the village of Knowle, sitting next to the new town of Welborne which will see 6,000 homes to be built over the next 25 years.

At the meeting, there was disagreement over what had been removed on the Southside of Knowle Road. Buckland Development managing director John Beresford said nothing had been taken down on the southside of Knowle road.

But before storming out, Councillor Manuel said: ”I invite you to come down and see what’s been taken down on the Southside (of Knowle Road). It’s complete lies, shocking. A mini roundabout is not 1,000 metres long.”

Mark Wyatt, principal planning officer for strategic sites said that the removal of the hedgerows was to make way for infrastructure, services and a roundabout. While seeming ‘brutal’, he said it was necessary.

He said: “I totally accept the feeling and the groundswell of feeling in Knowle village.”

Councillor Manuel said Fareham Borough Council was not being good neighbours to his village. He accused the council, along with leader Councillor Sean Woodward, of misleading and betraying people in Knowle after he said they promised the 30 acres of hedgerows could stay.

Councillor Nick Walker, chair of the planning committee said people were ‘naive’ if they thought things were not going to change during the planning process from the initial outline planning permission.

Councillor Ian Bastable, the Conservative councillor for Park Gate, asked that anything that is removed could be mitigated with replanting and that planting would not be removed until necessary.

Councillor Susan Walker, the Conservative councillor for Porchester West, said she was concerned about falling out with the parish council and suggested building bridges.

She suggested engaging with the parish council because it seemed there was a misunderstanding of the permissions given and ones moving forward.

She said: “Is it worth engaging with them if we don’t already do so? Just to make our relationships better with them.

“This is an enormous application and highly detailed and complicated. Just so they understand where we are going forward.”

According to Sheila Chambers, a former nurse who has lived in Knowle since 1958, it seems the historical agreement with the original two developers, will not be honoured.

Mark Wyatt said he would undertake to communicate with Knowle and Wickham Parish Council to make contact and try to improve communications.

Fareham council chair Nick Walker said Knowle Road is going to become part of a substantial road network.

He said: “Perhaps people were a bit naive if people thought that houses weren’t going to front it and it substantially change over the next 25 years.”

Councillors agreed a raft of specific details for the new town of Welborne, including the land use parameter plan which includes the geographical changes to the centre of the town.

They also approved the strategic design code which includes specifics such as what materials would be used for brick pointing, where roof lights would be sited, the size of gardens and the style of houses, which were discussed and agreed upon.

A separate document, the Welborne Streets Manual, shows the developers’ aim to make sure the town is not car-dominated and important crossings and junctions should be cycle and pedestrian-friendly.

Image: Illustrative of how Welborne centre may look

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