We’re well into 2019 and it’s already proving to be an interesting year. The main news items are summarised below, while other details can be found by taking the links to ‘Recent Posts’.
Our earlier appeal for an ‘inner circle’ of HCS members to assist the committee drew an encouraging list of volunteers who will soon start to receive some requests for help with projects starting up. These include the development of the Havant Town Tree Trail which is now being taken off the ‘back burner’.
If you’re wondering what the image above is, look here.
The Regeneration Programme – Where the money is going
March saw the press release from HBC which trumpeted the kick off of the first Phase of the Regeneration Programme. The architect’s computer generated image took a little time to digest until we realised that the five gabled pitches in the foreground occupy the space now taken up by the JobCentrePlus in Elmleigh Road. A couple of other gabled blocks occupy the site of the Police station and the Magistrates’ Court space while a new street opposite Mavis Crescent leads into and through the site of rather more mundane blocks of flats. The existing Leisure Centre can be seen beyond, and the Civic Plaza is hiding behind the trees at the top left.
When presented to the Council in March, the plan looked encouragingly like the output from a formal planning tool. However, our analysis of the dates it contained suggested that it was little more than a sales presentation, the dates on the Gantt chart straying quite some way from the dates in the text.
We look forward to seeing further detail on the plan in due course, and now that Phase 1 appears to be taking off, we especially look forward to an outline of what is expected for Phase 2.
The Regeneration Programme – Where the money should be going
The site at 44-54 West Street, long blighted by years of lack of development and neglect, failed to sell at auction on April 30th. The current owner of the site had chanced their arm with a reserve price of £810,000 and there were no takers.
Now is surely the time to remind Havant Borough Council of Point 9 on Page 14 of their ‘Opportunity Havant’ Regeneration Strategy document:
- “Where necessary the Council will utilise its Compulsory Purchase Powers to bring forward schemes and will make the required budget available.”
As far as we’re concerned, action on this site is now long overdue and ‘necessary’.
The same can be also be said about 5-7 East Street, the two single story shopfronts between Streets and the Havant Club. This site is also up for sale by auction this month with planning permission granted‘ with a guide price of £250,000.
Domino’s have already opened their new takeaway* premises at the former HSBC bank site, despite our concerns regarding traffic and parking.
The Development Management Committee at Havant Borough Council did not cover themselves in glory over this, leaving many questions unanswered and giving a clear indication that they pay little more than lip service to the process of public consultation, particular when threatened by developers with the costs of a planning appeal. Frankly, we think the DMC should show some political courage and stand up for the future of the town, rather than rolling over and caving in to pressure from a prominent local developer.
*Their next opportunity may not be long in coming. While the planning application was for A5 Use (Hot food takeaway), it is clear already that Domino’s are already encouraging customers to sit down and eat in. Given the size of the site and analysis of the company’s strengths and weaknesses, we think it highly likely that they will retrospectively apply for a change of use to A3 (Food and drink) licence within a short time.
North Street Arcade
The closure of the old Domino’s outlet in North Street Arcade coincided with the removal of some of the furniture and equipment from the short-lived and sadly defunct Grastar Restaurant. Could this mean that there will now be some movement on the application for 21 flats on this site? We note that the recently updated marketing plan for the remaining retail units on this site strongly suggests that there’s little future in the site as a retail arcade.
The Wessex Site
For those to the north of the town centre, there is further good news with demolition finally in progress at the former Victorian town gasworks, a site long abused by the not quite late but definitely un-lamented Wessex Construction Company, and more recently the home of A1-Recovery and Practical Car Rentals.
Development plans for the site were approved almost two years ago, subject to conditions relating to possible contamination and with those issues now resolved, it seems that the developer has decided to move on with the project.
Construction on the Wessex site needs to start within 3 years of the decision notice, September 17 so we hope that the developers will start building work promptly once the demolition is complete.
The Havant Borough Local Plan 2036
The plan has now been submitted to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, together with the comments received and the Local Plan’s Examination will start. This is expected in the Autumn of 2019. Further detail on the expected timescales moving forward is in the Local Development Scheme.
The Local Plan 2036 is now heading for the next step of a statutory planning inquiry. Its progress through the public consultation process has not exactly been a shining example of local, regional and central government coordination, particularly given the late delivery of the Hampshire County Council Transport Assessment on which so much depends.