Last week we launched a huge consultation into our draft Local Plan, a document to set out the future of development in the district outside the South Downs National Park.

No doubt it will be controversial in some quarters, especially as a key part of the plan proposes sites for development.

In total around 3,500 additional new homes are proposed for the district before 2040. 

This number is sent down to us by the Government and, if we are to have a Local Plan that can be used, we must meet that number. 

Having no Local Plan means losing a great deal of control over the ongoing development of the district. The absence of a Local Plan encourages developers to submit applications on likely-looking sites and weakens our ability to defend against them.

So, it’s a vital document, but what is it for? It’s natural that a lot of the focus on Local Plans is around housing sites, but there is more to a Local Plan than that. 

For example, it will also give us the opportunity to set policies that can limit the impact future developments have on the climate. No previous Local Plan has held the environment as close to its heart as this one. We can ensure homes are built using materials and techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make sure homes have a low carbon footprint across the span of their lifetime.

The right Local Plan can also create communities that promote healthy lifestyles, with green areas giving people space to breathe and cycle lanes linked to local facilities to encourage people to walk and cycle more. 

It is predicted that the number of people over 65 living in East Hampshire will grow by around 36 per cent percent by 2040. We will need the right mix of homes to meet the needs of this ageing population, while affordable homes will help more younger people stay in the community they grew up in.

So, there are a lot of benefits to taking care over planning and there’s a lot for residents to get their teeth into aside from housing numbers. 

I would urge everyone living or working in East Hampshire outside the SDNP to take part in the consultation.

I say outside the SDNP, because anyone living inside the national park will not be covered by EHDC’s Local Plan, as they have one of their own.

The national park covers 57 per cent of East Hampshire. The area our Local Plan covers is comparatively small, geographically speaking, but comparatively well-populated, incorporating centres such as Whitehill & Bordon, Alton and Liphook in the north, and Horndean and Clanfield in the south. 

It means the vast majority of the homes the Government would like East Hampshire to provide must be delivered around our most populated areas. This places pressure on existing settlements and places a further burden on our local infrastructure.

Development and growth are vital for a prosperous and vibrant economy, and it is our job to make sure new homes are built in the right place with the right supporting infrastructure. 

That’s not an easy job, but it can only be done with the support and input of our local residents.

The Local Plan consultation runs until Monday, March 4 and can be found on our website at