Join the great Basingstoke land grab

The race for land around booming Basingstoke has been started by a land speculation firm urging people to buy shares in Oakley farmland which has space for a mini-village of 1500 homes.

London-based Land Initiatives plc has been sending out mailshots to Basingstoke residents, asking them to invest at least £1,000, with a promise to 'maximise' 'substantial profits' once the land - currently Bulls Bushes Farm - is greenlighted for homes.

But the land does not have polanning permission for development, leaving Basingstoke's planning chief wondering where the confidence comes from.

Basingstoke Land

Land Initatives announced it had bought 184 acres of agricultural land southwest of Oakley, around the farm, for £2.1m, and is part of a 400 acre site which could, the firm says, provide '1,500 new homes and infrastructure'.

Taylor Woodrow, one of the UK's biggest property developers which built much of Brighton Hill, is involved and has options on the land.

Campaigners battling against the Major Development Area at Manydown, west of Basingstoke, were furious at the news, saying it proved their point that the borough was being treated as a 'soft touch'.

Stephen Reid, Save Manydown Group (SMG) chairman, said the invitation to invest was 'investing people to speculate on Basingstoke's future'.

Mr Reid said: "It starts. What they're doing is speculating that they will get permission irrespective of the Local Plan inquiry, as Prescott is saying every green field is at risk. They should call it Prescott Towers! This is what we have predicted - if you open a door a crack, all of a sudden developers rush in. It's the thin end of the wedge."

Ted Blackmore-Squires, SMG Secretary, said: "Milton Keynes will soon look like a village compared to Basingstoke. As we have been saying all along, once you offer up green fields the developers will come flooding in - they won't stop, and will have higher and higher densities as developers are not concerned about infrastructure but will pass the problem on to others."

SMG's fears were confirmed by a comment from Gavin Walker, Land Initiatives finance director, who was optimistic about development on its land. He said: "We believe the site is well positioned for planning permission to be granted, as the Basingstoke area has... one of the highest forward housing targets in the region."

Maria Miller, Basingstoke's Prospective Parliamenatry Candidate for the Tories said: "It's absolutely deadful. They see Basingstoke as willing to give up green field sites."

Basingstoke Observer, 24th February, 2005

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