How Eastleigh Borough Council funds new community projects in Bishopstoke and Fair Oak

It is brilliant that money has been allocated by the Bishopstoke, Fair oak & Horton Heath Local Area Committee (LAC) of Eastleigh Borough Council to carry out key community projects in our villages.

Independent Borough Councillors Lou Parker-Jones, Gin Tidridge and Ray Dean are the Bishopstoke representatives on this six councillor committee.  The other three members represent Fair Oak & Horton Heath.

At the last LAC meeting, a number of key projects were approved, including:

  • £65,297.39 to Stokewood Surgery for essential improvements to its building.
  • £529,747.73 to Bishopstoke’s Memorial Hall & Glebe Meadow.  Sadly, after many years of service, this hall has deteriorated to the point where replacement is needed.  The independent councillors are really keen that the new building is designed for community use, including Bishopstoke Players.
  • £157,943.43 to replace the former Scout Hut at New Century Park in Fair Oak with a not-for-profit community café and social enterprise.
  • £100,095.97 for a community extension to St Paul’s Church in Bishopstoke.
  • £55,928.62 to support Fair Oak’s Community Hub & Library project.
  • £28,622.81 to improve Church Road Play Area in Bishopstoke.
  • £13,558.13 to extend and improve the LAC’s Tree Corridor project.

This money does not come from residents’ council tax.  It is money that developers are required to put aside for community projects as part of their planning permission conditions. These are “section 106” contributions. The aim of these contributions is to help mitigate the community impact of a development and there are restrictions on how the funds can be used. The Council manages the process, identifying suitable projects and pulling together contributions from different developments.  The Memorial Hall grant is actually being funded by 10 developments. 

Developer’s planning conditions (agreed with the Council) specify the kind of project the section 106 money will be allocated to. For example, if money is allocated for play areas, it cannot be spent on a new road crossing. It is important to get the planning conditions drawn up carefully so that the community ends up with projects it actually needs.

Lou, Gin and Ray always push for funds to be spent in the areas that will be impacted by the development.  The LAC was asked to contribute £243,186.36 towards improvements at West End’s Itchen Valley Country Park at the last meeting.  Although Ray, Gin & Lou love the country park, all three felt that the money should be spent instead on projects within the LAC area that need help.  Stoke Park Woods has deteriorated in many places over Lockdown due to the increase in visitor numbers and play equipment installed by Forestry England has been mostly removed due to lack of maintenance funds.  Stoke Park Woods does not have income streams from carparks, café or Go Ape.  But it is accessible to Fair Oak and Bishopstoke residents, many of whom walk to the woods from home.  So if that money can be used to help restore our woods for the community and wildlife, that could be a better use of those funds. 

The LAC agreed with the independent councillors so the £243,186.36 is being held whilst the Stoke Park Woods project (and others) are scoped out. You can read more about the projects approved in the finance report of the last meeting in this link.