“After ten long years, derelict brownfield sites like 44-54 West street can no longer be tolerated.” That’s how we closed last month’s home page, with a tired image of the hoardings across the wasteland that is 44 – 54 West Street. The old shops were demolished almost a decade ago. Now with Havant’s bold new Regeneration Programme officially under way, could this picture be about to change? Here was the architect’s impression back in 2010.
The answer is probably no. Well, at least, not for another five years at the very earliest.
The Regeneration Programme
We’re a little behind with telling you about our response to the ‘Opportunity Havant’ Regeneration Strategy document, a summary of which can be seen here. We’ve not been exactly idle, but nor have several other local groups acting on behalf of the community.
Havant Civic Society met with the main sponsors of the document – Cllr Tim Pike and Andrew Biltcliffe – on Monday 29th October – and after an HCS committee meeting two days later, put pen to paper and delivered a fairly lengthy response.
Now please don’t rush for that link unless you really have nothing better to do, for there’s an easier read to follow. We already knew that the ‘Opportunity Havant’ document was due to be debated by the full Havant Borough Council on November 7th, fourteen days after it broke cover at the Cabinet Meeting, with a recommendation that it be approved. This appeared almost unseemly haste, especially given the lack of any consultation on the document. So once again, we went back to work, requesting the opportunity to make a deputation to the November Council Meeting. Our peer communities, Hayling Island Residents’ Association and the Havant Borough Residents’ Alliance, also asked to speak at the meeting.
Between the three groups, and after much effort by the three committees concerned, three five minute deputations were made to the full council Council meeting on November 7th. Not a single note was taken, not a single question asked. The ‘debate’ consisted of ten or a dozen councillors adding their support to the recommendation before approving the document with a unanimous vote. As our colleague from Hayling said, it was ‘as if we were talking into a void’.
The good news is that the meeting was told that at every step of the way, the Regeneration program deliverables will be put before the full council for a vote. No doubt, we shall put our effort in again.
The bad news is that if this is the quality of ‘debate’ that we can expect, our efforts will go to waste. We will, however, continue to make them.
Something really needs to change.