The countryside champions

Test Valley Group

Test Valley

Area covered: Test Valley Borough Council
Chairman: John Cooper
Tel: 01264 359911   Email:
Group contact: Moya Grove

Current issues: updated Local Plan, major developments, wind turbines.

AGM Minutes (March 2015)

The actions and minutes for the AGM held at Stockbridge Town Hall on the 27th March 2015 can be downloaded here (PDF: 106k). 27 people attended the AGM while 37 attended the talk that followed given by Douglas Peterson on 'Farming and the Hampshire Countryside'.

Feb 2015 Update - Local Plan and AGM

The Test Valley Local Plan Inquiry hearings have concluded. Of the 57 participants of overall housing numbers, CPRE was the only one to question the figures. Most of the others were calling for even higher numbers, which would lead to the further urbanisation of the lovely Test Valley. Issues relating to windfall sites and the better use of brownfield sites have also been fundamental. CPRE’s work has been underpinned by an analysis of trends and prospects. There will be a consideration and consultation of 19 outstanding issues. It is unlikely that a report will emerge before the summer.

There has been a further application from a local developer, Gladmans, for some 70 houses at Kings Somborne. This speculative proposal may be timed to take advantage of the lack of a five-year land supply. The group has sent letters to the two local MPs, regarding the Commons Select Committee report on the NPPF. They produce a positive response, showing broad concern for the need for review.

An AGM for the District Group is being planned for 27 March Stockbridge, with a modern agriculturalist, environmentalist and anti-wind farm campaigner as guest speaker. In late May, there will be a visit to an open garden at Ashley Manor, near Up Somborne, with Victorian glasshouse from Leeds Castle.

See links at right for AGM documentation

Test Valley Plan Examination in Public (Dec 2014)

Following our detailed response to the draft Local Plan, John Moon, an experienced planning expert from CPRE’s Test Valley group, who participated at the start of the Examination in Public on 11th December, is due to present the statement on 7th January.

Read press release

What's Going On? (November 2014)

John Cooper and John Moon have jointly prepared and submitted the statement of CPRE Test Valley for the forthcoming Local Plan hearings. John Moon is to present it on 7 January 2015. It challenges the housing figurers and focuses strongly on the mismatch between the projected rates of job creation in the Andover TTWA especially, and the number of houses planned. It draws on past experience of windfalls and the need to fully utilise brownfield sites. There is a detailed and critical analysis of population and economic trends on which the strategy is based.

CPRE locally has responded to a plethora of solar array applications, and has visited a site at Charlton for 202 houses in an area prone to rapid runoff and local road flooding. A letter of objection was prepared on several grounds. This is a further application which is attempting to take advantage of the lack of a current Local Plan. CPRE is also very concerned by the alleged recent devastation of a bluebell wood near Amport, and is keeping a watching brief whilst informing other agencies.

Membership remains an issue and CPRE in Test Valley has a limited supply of volunteers to assist with the running of events. It is hoped that the Branch will assist with the planned Open Garden Event.

John Cooper

A Period of Calm (August 2014)

This has been a relatively calm period in local plan preparation, after the CPRE’s efforts to provide an argued response against many worrying policies. The draft Revised Test Valley Borough Local Plan has now gone forward, with minimally changes, to the Planning Inspectorate for the next stages. The group’s coach trip to Petworth House and Gardens on 20 May was much enjoyed by those attending. The Pleasure Grounds were probably at their best and the House has an astonishing collection of treasures. However our numbers were such that only a small net surplus resulted. This was buoyed by a good raffle.

The Chairman was invited through the branch office to take up the offer from South Today to give a TV interview on solar arrays. The suggestion was to use Danebury Ring as the viewpoint and judge the impact of a 20-acre array on the landscape at a distance of two miles; the weather was poor. The interview was in driving rain and a strong wind, and visibility was too bad for the camera to spot the array. Some 10 seconds of a 5 minute interview was eventually broadcast!

What's Going On? (May 2014)

The critical issue for the Group at present is its response to the draft Local Plan (see below). We focussed on the very questionable assumptions backing up a major increase in house building. We challenged the planners' overstated projections of population increase, inward migration and jobs growth, far in excess of figures that Test Valley has experienced over such a lengthy period in the past.

Conversely we argued that the same planners have understated the numbers of houses that will be built on “windfall” sites. Until this new Plan is in place Test Valley remains at risk from developers going ahead with their own plans. To view our submission, please download our response to local plan consultation (PDF, Mar 2014).

We need help covering the Test Valley area. If you have an interest in countryside issues in the district and would like to help when you can, please do contact us.

On the social front we have arranged a coach trip picking up from Andover and Romsey to visit the National Trust’s Petworth Estate on the 20th May; as well as the house and its considerable art collections, the grounds and gardens should be at their best. Contact John Cooper

Local food Essential for sustainable local future

This was the conclusion reached by Kate Hibbert, Local Sourcing Manager for The Southern Cooperative at her sparkling talk, given on Friday, 4th April. Members and friends of CPRE Test Valley gathered for their annual open meeting in the elegant and newly re-furbished surroundings of Stockbridge’s Town Hall.

Read the full press release

Response to updated local plan (March 2014)

We have submitted our comments on the proposed revision to the local plan. In outline they are:

  • Evidence for required housing numbers based on employment is not robust. Earlier forecasts have proved too optimistic.
  • Windfall completions are likely to be considerably greater than allowed for.
  • There is considerably uncertainty as to the amount of greenfield site housing needed and there is therefore no need to allocate greenfield sites in the northern Test valley.
  • Likewide there is no need to allocate 11 acres of greenfield land adjacent to Walworth Business Park when there is a high proportion of vacant plots on the existing business park and at Portway.
  • Sections on settlement hierarchies, improving the viability of Andover town centre, health and wellbeing, and the Water Framework Directive all need strengthening.

You can download the full 16-page response (PDF) here.

Update (Spring 2013)

We are at risk from unscheduled development due to failure to have in place a new Local Plan. The first version failed to get the endorsement of the Planning Inspectorate and was withdrawn. We will argue strongly against any increase in the previous build rate, thus delivering a growth rate for the Borough in line with past trends and somewhat above the rate for the South East of England as a whole.

There have been a number of applications made, which we have regarded as damaging to the countryside without offering sufficient benefit to the community. These include:

  • Proposals for a large Tesco 'out of town' store for Romsey. We argued that this would draw further business away from the town centre, exacerbating current trends.
  • 64 houses above the wetlands at Oxleaze introducing a suburban development to an unspoilt stretch of country.
  • Proposals for 14 400ft Wind Turbines on land in the north east quadrant between the A34 and the A303. Sited here the turbines would be highly obtrusive, very visible from much of the adjacent North Wessex Downs AONB and visible from much of that part of Test Valley. We are working with other CPRE groups affected and the Keep Hampshire Green Alliance.

We have organised a visit to Trinley Farm Estate Visit and a coach Trip to Avebury Manor - see events page.

Update (Spring 2012)

We have responded to Test Valley's Core Strategy which is the final consultation stage prior to the document being adopted by the Council as their Pre-Submission Core Strategy. We raised serious concerns over the continuing population decline in our villages and therefore the viability of many rural services, as well as the future of the borough's town centres. We believe that the plan should contain positive measures to encourage the vitality of the town centres and resist any further shift towards out-of-town or edge-of-town retail development. We also raised concerns about the implications of the awaited NPPF and how this should reflect with a future draft Core Strategy. Our full comments can be viewed elsewhere on this our website (see news item below and link on right).

We are also organising a coach trip to Tyntesfield National Trust Estate. Please see the events page for details.

Response to Test Valley Draft Core Strategy (February 2012)

We have recently responded to the Test Valley Borough Council Core Strategy Consultation. This sets out proposed locations for development until 2031 as well as planning policies and philosophies. Our response provides details of our support or opposition to various proposals. Particular concerns include the mix of housing types, the vitality of town centres, the viability of rural services and the critical state of water supply and discharge.

See covering letter and detailed response (9 pages) (both PDF).

News (Spring 2011)

The radical changes being made to the planning system are delaying work in the Borough in developing its long term strategy. One consequence of the Government's decision to abolish regional housing targets has been the Borough's decision to reduce its new build housing targets by 10%. There are a number of strategic developments in the North of Test Valley; the major housing estates to the NE of Andover are rolling forward and anyone travelling along the A303 sees the huge impact of the CoOp 'megashed' site, which is far removed from the Andover Business Park which we originally accepted.

There have been a number of industrial scale solar power proposals. These developments are a direct response to financial incentives offered by Government towards its target of generating 15% of our energy from renewable sources by 2015. Our view is that we should urge use of brownfield land, otherwise we need to consider the quality of the immediate landscape, the visibility of the structures, the extent to which it might be impacted by existing developments and the extra infrastructure needed to link it to the National Grid.

Earlier News

The LDF in Test Valley has been put back because the Options Strategy that went through local consultation was rejected by the Planning Inspector after local enquiry. The announcements from the new Government have slowed the amended version of that Strategy which is now expected in the Autumn of 2010.

Earlier news for the predecessor group can be found in our newsletter archives.

This page last updated 14th April 2015.     Facebook icon  Visit our Facebook page         Twitter icon  Follow us on Twitter