The Cooke Report: “They need to build them, I get that. But not on top of the countryside”

PUBLISHED: 11:58 01 October 2020

Alice Cooke

Alice Cooke


Our columnist Alice Cooke is a nimby and proud

Nimbyism is rife around my neck of the woods at the moment, and I’m not wholly against it myself. For the uninitiated, nimby is short for ‘not in my back yard’. A nimby is a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in their neighbourhood, but is especially characterised by those who raise no such objections to similar developments elsewhere. I’m not saying I approve the latter part of that description, but I am all on board with sticking up for our countryside, when seemingly all around seek to destroy it.

I’m talking about homes first and foremost. Just a matter of months ago, I saw residents and their MP object to a plan for over 100 new homes in Eastleigh. The planning application was submitted to Eastleigh Borough Council detailing how the developers, Vivid Homes, wanted to build 106 new homes.

Residents, the local MP and borough councillors were all against the proposal and it was eventually rejected at a meeting of the Hedge End, West End and Botley Local Area Committee.

MP for Eastleigh, Paul Holmes, who submitted a formal objection to the plans, said at the time, “There is too much development in Eastleigh which damages our communities and damages our environment. Together with many other residents, I objected to this application which would result in the loss of important green space, remove the gaps that exist between our villages and undermine the safety of children going to Freegrounds school.”

I’m with Paul on this, but sadly it’s by no means an isolated incident. And yes, I know there’s a housing quota to fulfil and not enough homes and where are they supposed to go… and I don’t have the answers. But I do think destroying our countryside for the sake of cramming in new builds is not it.

Chair of Hedge End, West End and Botley Local Area Committee Cllr Cynthia Garton (sensibly) said of the Eastleigh proposal, “The Council is committed to delivering the homes that are needed for the future but they have to be in the right places – and this was not one of them.”

That’s what I’m getting at. They need to build them, I get that. But not on top of the countryside. Don’t try and tell me there isn’t room in urban areas and on brownfield sites, because frankly I’ll call you a liar. There is. It might just not be as cost efficient or easy to do. But is that really the point? If it is, it shouldn’t be.

And it’s not just houses either. Planners are coming at us from all angles with all sorts of nonsene these days. Another recent example was the plans to create a waste infill site in a Hampshire village, which guess what – was met with outrage by residents. Of course it was.

A waste management company based in Fareham submitted an application for an 8,963 square metre site, that would see the soft sand dug up and the area filled with 435,000 tonnes of clean inert waste and materials, such as bricks, ceramics and concrete.

Once this is done, the company plans to restore the land to its former state, with the whole project estimated to be a six-year process. So where do we stand on that? It’s an inconvenience, an eyesore and an inevitable increase in trucks, noise, traffic and dust. But only for six years.

Jasmine Kendall from Waltham Chase, said of the proposed development, “This is a small countryside village – there will be vast disruptions to the local wildlife, there will be even more lorries and HGV traffic contributing to noise and air pollution and with the speed some people drive there is a massive risk to life.

“There are children who walk to school and their safety should be paramount.”

David Chaplin from Shedfield, said, “I object to this happening, the site is close to my home, there would be too many lorries creating danger and noise. The dust would ruin my garden.”

They were both right in everything they said, but is there an argument that these sites have to go somewhere, and it’s only for a limited amount of time?

By the way, you can clearly tell that one isn’t in my ‘back yard’, because I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt I’d be singing a very different tune if it was.

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