Don’t get me wrong, I’ve long thought that cetaceans have a more balanced view of their place on the planet than we humans have, but as far as the ‘Local Plan 2036’ goes, we should retain some sense of proportion; Brent geese and Bechstein’s bats are a little lower down the tree than the derelict spaces in the town centre and the traffic congestion, and an awful lot lower down the tree than those desperate for affordable housing in the borough.
At this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting, much time was spent down in the weeds debating the relative importance of geese and bats. Should the Rooks Farm development allocation be removed from the Local Plan to avoid the aggravation of the bats of Long Copse Lane or should the latter allocation be removed from the plan to save upsetting the geese? After a little debate, the sensible conclusion was that these are not the only two highly controversial sites in the Local Plan 2036. There are, as Cllr Hughes articulated clearly, many others.
At one point during the meeting, I was sitting bemused by the debate’s preoccupation with Brent geese and waders, wondering just where the Council tax paying residents fitted in the pecking order. Just then, Cllr Baines queried why the meeting was “spending so much time discussing the needs of geese?”. At last, I thought, back to reality! Sadly, I was mistaken and she went on to suggest that “Bechstein’s bats have just as much entitlement to protection”.
In the end, the Cabinet voted to offer the ‘Pre-submission Local Plan 2036’ unchanged for this evening’s Council meeting to debate and rubber stamp, the general view being that we should all trust the Planning Inspector to do the right thing later in the year. David Hayward did a very efficient job of fielding the points raised by the deputees and the various questions from the Cabinet.
This evening’s Council meeting already has fourteen three-minute deputations to hear and we’ve spared them a fifteenth. Instead we’ll keep our powder dry for the Inspection and try and focus on a high level view of the issues in the context of the wider Havant town centre area.
Talking of high level views, here’s one to think about. Given that the new A27 access to Southleigh is out of the Plan, the Cabinet was told that the access to the Southleigh development area would be from an upgraded Warblington interchange, leading northward to a junction with Barton’s Road.
There’s a fair bit for us all to think about there. Especially the ‘Traffic team’, who as we noted last week need all the help we can contribute.