Hampshire County Council has set a challenge to housing developers with the Getting Connected programme following a county council motion last November with cross-party backing.
You can watch proceedings from the council chambers here.
The council has pledged to work with its district and borough councils, developers and broadband suppliers to make access to superfast speeds a requirement from the day the property is occupied on new developments. Currently the council do not have any powers to force developers to provide a superfast service, but if voluntary arrangements and existing planning powers do not support sufficient progress, it will be calling on Government to give councils powers to secure this through planning processes, especially on large scale developments.
As highlighted by Cllr Stephen Reid (Cons), the county council is spending some £21M on retrofitting superfast broadband to meet increasing targets of 95% and 97%, whilst developers are taking their efforts backwards.
Cllr Jackie Porter (LibDem) compared broadband provision to water; would it be acceptable if the water supply in a new build property was only a drip.
During the main efforts of our campaign last September, our county councilor Cllr Jane Frankum (Lab) vehemently supported our campaign, and she also spoke at the meeting.
Cllr Christopher Wood (UKIP) raised concerns that developers would fight against the council tooth and nail to protect their profits and this needs government legislation, but this was countered as to why developers can’t add the relatively small cost to the price of their houses. Purchasers won’t notice the cost and will be all the more happy with the service.
From our experience, getting developers like Taylor Wimpey to take notice and recognise this is unfortunately nigh on impossible. Their lack of response to our campaign highlights this.