Alton Neighbourhood Plan sign-off gives town more protection from unwanted development

By Toby Paine   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Friday 12th November 2021 4:26 pm
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The new development at the former Molson Coors brewery will see 220 homes and a new community centre built near Alton town centre

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COUNCILLORS have approved Alton’s revised Neighbourhood Plan, shutting the door on developers seeking to exploit delays to East Hampshire’s Local Plan.

East Hampshire District Council gave the green light to Alton Town Council’s updated plan, first adopted in 2016, at a meeting on Thursday.

The plan covers housing, transport, facilities, education and the economy – and was created to give residents more of a say on how the area is developed.

It was sent back to consultation by the town council in February, to ensure it remains up to date in the eyes of planning inspectors.

It also comes amid uncertainty among councillors over housing targets for the area set by government following Michael Gove’s appointment as Housing Secretary.

Revisions to the plan include the removal of housing sites which have now been built, and replacing them with sites likely to be built.

Specifically, it has added the planned developments at the former Molson Coors brewery in Turk Street, Alton, and magistrates’ court building in Normandy Street, both of which have already been granted planning permission, to the plan’s housing allocations.

CALA Homes’ Alton brewery development will see 220 homes and a new community facility built near the town centre, while McCarthy & Stone is building a block of 43 retirement apartments on the old court site.

Councillor Angela Glass, planning portfolio holder said: "The plan is very well written, very well produced. These plans normally are.

"The current developments actively under way are the Molson Coors site.

"It’s right in the heart of the town so it provides easy access to anyone who would be living on that site."

Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Hunt, leader of the opposition, said: "The inspector spoke highly of the plan and made very few changes.

"The reason for the update was to put the council in a good position to say it has its land supply and to stop unwanted development.

"We’ve got so much uncertainty we don’t know how Michael Gove is going to go on housing numbers."

The plan also supports improvements to the road network to reduce traffic, and ensuring developments respect the character of the town and surrounding countryside.

But the modifications are limited to the plan’s housing allocation policies only, with all other policies agreed five years ago not subject to change.

A public consultation on Alton’s ‘modification proposal’ ran from February 16 to March 30, 2021.

And in a report, independent examiner Andrew Ashcroft said the community had been "engaged" in the preparation of the plan.

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