‘Big business’ fear over £3bn Waterside investment plan

PLANS for attracting up to £3bn of investment to Totton and the Waterside have been attacked by opposition councillors as a “big business wish list”.

A “vision” of major improvements to the area was debated at a special meeting of New Forest District Council’s environment overview and scrutiny panel.

A report outlined how a bid for millions of pounds of government funding has been made by Hampshire County Council to fund an overhaul of major routes and public transport into the Waterside, and ways the area could capitalise on incoming major development.

Up to £3bn of investment could be attracted as well as 6,700 new jobs, said the report.

It was prepared following outline permission for 1,500 homes at Fawley power station, and approval of NFDC’s Local Plan, setting out delivery of more than 10,000 homes outside the national park by 2036.

However, Liberal Democrat district councillor Alex Wade was worried that the report had been drafted with input from Exxon Mobil, Associated British Ports, Barker Mill Estates and Fawley Waterside Ltd.

“I am concerned the vision acts for the benefit of organisations on the site and not for our communities,” Cllr Wade said. He pointed to ABP’s aspirations to develop the Waterside with port facilities.

Lib Dem group leader Cllr David Harrison added: “This is not a vision the people of the Waterside would buy into or have had any say on.”

Lib Dem Cllr Malcolm Wade described the document as a “big business wish list”, and said: “We need local jobs for local people.”

The report noted that Totton and the Waterside is the most urbanised, industrial and densely populated sub-area of the New Forest, but with levels of economic prosperity about a fifth below the national average . . . .

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