by Ray George

It seems a long time ago, but residents may recall the proposals for a travellers’ transit site beside Monks Brook. One weapon against the development was an application in September 2007 for the field on the east side of Stoneham Way to be designated as a village green. This put the travellers’ site plans on hold until the village green application had been decided. What became of this application? Because about 65% of the land is in Hampshire and 35% in Southampton, an application was made to both authorities. Hampshire County Council agreed that Southampton City Council should deal administratively with the application on behalf of them both. This would have included a public enquiry, with an estimated cost of £20,000. After the Conservatives gained an overall majority on the City Council in the elections of May 2008, plans for a travellers’ transit site at Monks Brook went away. The City Council then apparently did nothing about the village green application and officers of the County Council were unsuccessful in eliciting what progress had been made. As a result, in April 2011, the County Council’s Regulatory Committee authorised the Chairman to write to the Leader of the City Council requesting information about lack of progress. Apparently, there was no response, and in April 2012, the Regulatory Committee agreed that the County Council should deal administratively with this application (and the one to Southampton City Council, if they agreed). This move had become necessary because the County Council dealt with applications in the order of date received. This one had now got to the top of the list and was holding up processing later applications.

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 prevents an application for village green status, if a planning application has been made and under some other circumstances. This caused a rush of new applications to Hampshire County Council. In July 2015, Hampshire County Council introduced a policy to give priority to an application when the land becomes subject to a planning application.

In summary, the Monks Brook application is still alive, if not well. Of the 11 current applications, this is the oldest and is one of three that are described as “under investigation” while the rest are “to be investigated”.

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