Architect Jack Warshaw, whose practice is located within East Hampshire Council’s proposed
Whitehill-Bordon eco-town zone is urging his MP, Damian Hinds, to back withdrawal of
Government support for the Council’s plan because the local community opposes it. Warshaw
points to Housing Minister Grant Shapps’ statement that “The Government will not designate or
impose a solution on a particular area and will not support an eco-town if the local community is
opposed to it” as reason enough to withhold further funding for a scheme which, he says has
already wasted millions. Shapps is on record as condemning eco-towns when he was Shadow
Warshaw, a member of local activists Bordon Area Action Group (BAAG – www.baaga.co.uk) says
that the principal cause of community opposition is the amount of the proposed development, over
5000 homes and associated building, doubling the size of the town. This size was stipulated by the
previous Government in its Planning Policy Statement on Eco towns, July 2009 with no regard for
the capacity of Whitehill Bordon or any site to accommodate it without harm to the environment
and character, thereby undermining the very purposes which eco-towns are supposed to achieve.
“The Council’s entire approach has been top-down and dishonest,” he says. “Top down because
the amount of development was predetermined, the community was never consulted about it and
cogent criticism is ignored or brushed aside. Dishonest because the Council has no sound basis for
its plan, falsifies evidence, pledges benefits which are not in its power to deliver, steers consultees
towards favourable replies to loaded questions and misconstrues results. Even so, community
responses show consistent opposition to the plan and distrust of the Council.”
“In terms of PPS1, PPS7 and the Eco-towns PPS, sustainable options were not presented and
tested, through consultation or systematic study. When the Council’s masterplan consultants,
EDAW, now AECOM were asked directly why they only had one option to put to interested parties,
they replied “That’s what the Council instructed us to do.” Since then it has been reported that the
development cannot be self-financing as required.
“If ‘community’ really means local people, not a euphemism for the Council or local ruling
politicians, this will be a huge test of the Minister’s integrity,” says Warshaw. His letter warns that
continued Government funding for a high risk, unsustainable, unviable plan would waste much
greater sums building a large urban dormitory with a tarnished eco-badge and a resentful
population. He thinks the Minister should review Council’s conduct of consultations and put his
money where his mouth is, behind the community.
SNUB has also questioned Grant Shapps about his actions since the election which seem contradictory to the views expressed when he was in opposition and his later assertion that “The Government will not designate or impose a solution on a particular area and will not support an eco-town if the local community is opposed to it”.