Are the Traffic team asleep at the wheel?

This would seem to be the question of the moment (read on).

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that this afternoon’s Development Management Committee meeting passed the planning application for a Domino’s pizza takeaway at the former HSBC site by 4 votes to 2.

(To be fair, if the voting had been restricted to the three members of the panel who actually took part, the application would have been rejected by 2 votes to 1. A fourth member of the committee quite surprised us by explaining how intently she’d read the material before accepting the advice of her daughter on how she should vote. Of the remaining two members of the committee, both of whom remained silent throughout, one appeared to be preoccupied with her phone while the other, rather more worryingly, showed few signs of life).

As we’ve explained before, there was little material change to the content of this re-submitted application other than the inclusion of an appendix which seemed little more than a thinly veiled threat. And therein lays the rub…

Faced with an ongoing appeal and an application for costs, HBC were probably never going to reject this resubmitted application; passing the application would provide the easy way out. Against this background, we can forgive Cllr Pike his faux pas of having inadvertently excluded himself from the agenda since we doubt his input would have made any difference anyway.

Only Cllr Satchwell, who probably now has little to lose, provided a voice of sanity, latterly with Cllr Patrick in support.

[If this editor were writing a match report, which he isn’t, those particular players would have rated 8/10 and 7/10 respectively. The other players would have rated 6/10, 3/10 (generous), 0/10 and 0/10]

So what are we left with?

The obvious result is another fast food takeaway in an entirely unsuitable location. The less obvious result will be a measurable increase in the chaos which descends on Park Road South during peak times. Unless, that is, the council put mandatory road signage up to prevent drivers turning right across two lanes of traffic. It’s already bad enough with the entrances and exits from Bulbeck Road and Burger King. With up to 70 delivery drivers an hour coming into and out of the Domino’s site, yes that’s 140 traffic movements, you can see why the traffic impact will be measurable.

We can see that, so why on earth could not the consultee for ‘Traffic Management, East Hampshire District Council’? Havant Civic Society have raised the relevance of this issue til we’re collectively blue in the face, even emailing the gentleman directly. When we expressed our astonishment tonight that the Traffic Management ‘Team’ had not raised the obvious concerns against the application, the Chairman, with an air of resignation, conceded that he took our point. Cllr Satchwell was rather more forthright.

“In the four years that I’ve been on this planning committee, the number of times objections have been raised by Traffic can be counted on the fingers of one hand!”

It didn’t go unnoticed that absolutely no mention was made in the introduction to this agenda item of the public comments raised against this application. Perhaps with forty* objecting and just four in support, the Chairman felt it would be unhelpful.

If Havant Borough Council hopes to get residents engaged with their much vaunted Regeneration Programme, they need to up their game, cut out the dead wood and fix some processes. Ignoring residents’ views and carrying passengers won’t cut it.

#rethinkhavant – Take this link to join us.

[* 37 objections filed by the planning process as ‘public comments’, plus 3 inexplicably filed under ‘Documents’]