Portsmouth Water – Lack of ‘Master Plan’ transparency

If you’re a resident of West Street, of Brockhampton Road or if you’re simply one of the 20,000 patients of the Bosmere Medical Practice, you should take a keen interest in the designs that Portsmouth Water have on the land they own between West Street and Solent Road.

© Historic England – Britain from Above

It is no surprise that the Hong Kong registered owners of ‘Portsmouth Water’ wish to capitalise on the value of the land that they own on the Havant site for the benefit of their shareholders. The emerging Local Plan shows a housing allocation (H17) for 135 housing units on the site of current office buildings in West Street and a Development Consultation Forum (DCF) held in November 2019 showed a proposal for a new Headquarters building and industrial units to the south west of the site.

That DCF raised serious concerns about the traffic impact on both the operation of the medical centre and on existing Solent Road traffic which is already often gridlocked at precisely the times of day that the NHS contract states the surgery must have its hours.

No planning application has yet been raised for either of these developments and no further Development Consultation Forum has been scheduled. Instead, planning applications are being drip fed in a piecemeal fashion without regard to the overall overall context in which they should be assessed. The granting of one application in isolation will clearly alter the context in which the subsequent applications will be assessed, potentially disadvantaging local communities.

In October, Portsmouth Water raised an Application for ‘Tree Works’ at the southern boundary of the existing office site, a thinly disguised project to clear trees in preparation for future development. Local objections were ignored and the application was passed through a delegated decision.

Portsmouth Water have now raised a further application for the creation of a new site road access from Brockhampton Road, ‘to improve access to the yard, following demolition of existing buildings within the Conservation Area’.

The proposed design of this new site access road appears suitable for HGV use, but whether this is simply for Portsmouth Water or to service the proposed new industrial units is unclear.

Either way, the local residents, together with the staff and patients of the Bosmere Medical Centre, deserve a clear answer.

In order to finance this development and maximise value for their shareholders, Portsmouth Water will clearly have a master plan showing how each of these ‘future projects’ integrate within an overall programme of work. We would expect the next application to be raised to be the development of the industrial units first shown at the 2019 DCF. This project will then contribute funding to the next site project, the development of the new HQ buildings. Once the HQ building is complete and occupied, the application for the demolition of the current West Street offices and the construction of the houses will appear. Havant Borough Council must already have sight of this plan given that their primary focus will be on ‘ticking off’ another 135 housing units.

However, each time that we ask for sight of this masterplan, all we receive is a stony silence. It isn’t a particularly tough question to answer, HBC already know the answer, they’re just hoping that by chipping away at these projects piecemeal, we’ll end up just accepting the additional impact of the increased traffic from the complete set of projects.

Of course, HBC may already have done the modelling of the traffic flows and found that there’s no issue here. But if that’s the case, then why don’t they come clean and answer the question?!

There will obviously be additional traffic in West Street and Brockhampton Road from 135 new homes, but that’s to be expected. What we’re pretty certain they won’t have modelled is the impact of the traffic servicing three industrial units and the new Portsmouth Water headquarters building, all routed through the existing dedicated entrance of the busiest medical centre in the town!

The Brockhampton and West Street residents and the 20,000 patients of the Bosmere Medical Centre, all of whom pay the Council Tax that funds the planning service, deserve some transparency here.