When we first reported on this one, we only had part of the story. To be honest, even now, we have less than three quarters of the story given that the planning application was submitted, probably deliberately, lacking significant information. It makes it hard for the Case Officer in Planning Services and just as hard for us to make sense of it and report on it. Such applications should never really get validated and loaded to the planning portal in that state. However, developers know only too well that we have to spend hours digging through pages of turgid nonsense before we can actually identify the critical stuff that is missing.
The application to build what it calls a ‘last mile’ storage and distribution hub on the former Pfizer site in New Lane is such a proposal. It’s one that, if passed, would generate around 2,500 new daily goods vehicle movements past residential properties and schools. In order to support those deliveries, we estimate that there will be another 3,000 commuting vehicle movements generated by three shifts of
sweatshop warehouse staff and a car park full of almost 900 van drivers. These 5,500 vehicle movements will continue outside normal peak hours given the three shift 24/7 operation that’s proposed.
Almost all of the goods vehicle movements and most of the commuting traffic will be heading out to the A27 and A3(M), transporting staff and delivering packages to addresses in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey while adding an unsustainable volume to the town’s traffic problems, two thirds of it at peak times.
The unnamed occupier plans to ‘consolidate their operations’ at the site, relocating operations, we are led to assume, from other, smaller locations within the three counties. The application states there will be 150 jobs lost at New Lane but remains completely blank as to whether new jobs are being created. In reality, the applicant is leaving the vital information off, just so they can come out with a banner headline like “DHLazon will bring 1,500 jobs to Havant” right at the last minute in an attempt to hold the Council over a barrel.
We remain optimistic that the Planning Committee will take a rather broader view of the pros and cons and not give up on what New Lane ought to be.
The proposal is to demolish the existing Pfizer cold store warehouse in New Lane and replace it by a large warehouse and storage unit with an equally large three floor multi-storey ‘car park’ for up to 866 Light Goods Vehicles – long wheelbase ‘Transit’ type vans.
Inbound deliveries will arrive by 32 daily HGV movements, mostly overnight, for sorting in the warehouse before loading onto vans for doorstep delivery across the three counties at the start of the day. The first vans will leave the site around 6am with the last returning around 11pm and all in all, there will be almost two and a half thousand van movements a day, seven days a week. That is a lot of traffic coming in to and out of the site.
From the the information within the documents which accompany the application, we can deduce a few things about the scale of the operation and so to help brighten up the graphics, we’ve made up a little logo for them:
Where this all starts to get a bit barking is in the choice of the New Lane employment area as a site. Most sensible last mile storage and distribution operators like DPD work from ‘edge-of-town’ sites where they can access the main arterial road network directly.
The New Lane employment site, which sixty years ago was an edge-of-town industrial estate, is now effectively landlocked by extensive residential development. To reach the major arterial roads, any traffic from New Lane must pass through the most congested traffic pinch points in the area:
- Park Road North
- New Lane Level crossing
- Bartons Road/Emsworth Common Road junction
- Bartons Road/Petersfield Road junction
- New Road/Bedhampton Hill/The Rusty Cutter roundabout
You can see a few of the problems illustrated in the graphic below. Not only surrounded by houses but also surrounded by those traffic hot-spots and a lot of local schools. To get out to the A27, west or east, the site traffic will simply contribute to the existing traffic hotspots that lie naturally on its route. The same applies to vans trying to head towards the A3(M) via Purbrook Way and Hulbert Road or via the B2149 to Horndean.
That’s 2,500 vehicle movements a day, all generated from within the town, all trying to get out to, and back from, the major road network that’s out there on the edge of town..
DPD will be rubbing their hands with glee. The only time they need to negotiate these hotspots will be when they actually have a doorstep delivery in Havant, that’s just 5% of their journeys. Their competitor, should they unwisely choose the New Lane site, will be stuck in Havant’s traffic for 95% of theirs! (The percentage figures come from their own application, this isn’t rocket science!)
The issue for us all is that to meet their delivery promises and to attempt to buck the traffic, the applicant proposes to route their delivery vans through the most constrained residential streets south of the site, using the New Lane level crossing if they’re heading for the A27 east, New Road if they’re heading for the A27 west, or Park Road North if they’re just feeling lucky. In any event, they’ve indicated that they’ll be ignoring the advisory HGV routing on Crossland Drive as “dictated by local demand and current traffic conditions”.
It would be absolute madness for the Council to approve this application on this particular site and we appeal to them to take a very long hard look at this. The HBC Local Plan and the HBC Regeneration Strategy both very deliberately state an intention for ‘last mile delivery’ operations to be located at the current edge-of-town sites, Dunsbury Farm, where DPD have already set up a similar operation, or the recently sold Brockhampton West for which an appropriate outline planning application currently exists – APP/21/00189.
What should you do next?
Please take the time to read some of the documents that are available. Either on the Council website or on ours.
Where to go next?
New! If you’ve never viewed the detail of a planning application before, or have never submitted a comment against an application, you might like to read our simple illustrated guide which shows you how.
You can go straight to the HBC Planning Application documents for the Pfizer site application by clicking this link.
If you don’t have the time to wade through the application and its documents, you can read a summary of the detail in just seven pages, including an analysis of how it might affect you, by taking this link.
To go straight to the the official online form for making your comments, click this link.
Responses must be in by April 6th.
Sadly, it would appear that Havant Borough Council’s “Traffic Management Team” didn’t bother to read any of the paperwork before submitting their nine word response, circled in red, below.
Is it any wonder why the traffic in the town in normal times is so bad?!