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Council calls for government to reject eco-town plan

Winchester Council has written a letter to the government calling for it to reject a developer’s bid to build a 12,500-home eco-town near the Winchester city.

Council leader George Beckett wrote to Communities Secretary Hazel Blears after developer Eagle Star Estates put forward proposals to redevelop Micheldever Station despite earlier planning applications being thrown out by the local authority.

In the letter, Beckett says that Eagle Star Estates has been trying to develop the land since the 1980s and has now attempted to gain approval for its development under the new ‘eco-town’ guise.

Beckett wrote: ‘Most recently, the Planning Inspectorate’s Panel overseeing the Examination in Public of the South East Regional Spatial Strategy considered and rejected Eagle Star Estates’ case for a new community at Micheldever Station.

‘The same plans have now been re-badged as an ‘Eco-Town and submitted direct to Communities and Local Government – the only difference being that it is now proposed to accommodate 12,500 homes on the same site as Eagle Star Estates first sought to locate 3,000.’

Beckett adds that the development would be ‘wholly inappropriate’ for the area, and even goes as far to say that Eagle Star’s proposals are ‘hostile’.

The letter concluded: ‘I make the point not as the Leader of a "Nimby" District – Winchester is playing its full part in supporting growth in south Hampshire.

‘Rather, I do so in order to avoid an entirely inappropriate development proposal which has been unsuccessfully promoted for some years now being foisted on local communities by masquerading as an eco-town.’

Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged to build 10 eco-towns as one of his major agendas when taking over from Tony Blair.

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