There are four video clips covering the entire agenda item of the meeting in this post. If you want to understand how planning decisions are taken at HBC, then this is as good a place as any to start.
We’ve left off the boring piece at the beginning, though it does contain some interesting statements. It’s the piece in which the Committee Chairman goes round the table and asks the Committee Members in turn to state whether they’ve done their homework, read all the papers, read the deputations and have no interests to declare. They all nodded accordingly. (Cllr. Hughes seems to have done, but we’re really not sure about the rest of ’em!)
Updated – 14 September 2021. Courtesy of ‘Mr. Google’, we’ve added a transcript of the Planning Committee interactions on this application. If you find much of it incoherent, then its just because it was, well, incoherent. It does, however, serve to reinforce the fact that the difficult questions, particularly those raised in the three residents’ deputations, were either beyond their ken or deliberately ignored. Click the image below to open the transcript in a new browser tab.
Case Officer’s Introduction
HBC Principal Planning Officer David Eaves, as the Case Officer, takes the meeting through the background to the case and the pertinent details, including the relevant drawings. Mr. Eaves’ delivery proceeds directly into the detail and omits the introductory formalities we’ve normally seen at the start of such a presentation. These should include an overview of the public comments raised. With over 300 residents objecting, and some detailed documentation from both HCS and the New Lane/Eastern Road Neighbourhood Watch group, we would have expected these to have at least been mentioned in the Case Officer’s introduction.
While these inconvenient details were omitted, Mr. Eaves’ dry and clear delivery of the planning application contains enough to answer many of the questions that some of the members of the Planning Committee go on to raise in subsequent parts of the meeting. While all members had declared to the Chairman that they had ‘read all the papers and deputations’, (the boring bit we’ve not included here), it’s abundantly clear to us that a good number of them hadn’t done their homework and didn’t listen to this presentation from the Case Officer either.
Next, the public deputations are heard. Normally there are a total of 5 minutes allowed for those speaking against the application and 5 minutes for those speaking for the application. In this case, given a large number of written deputations against, including three requests to speak, the Chairman allowed a total of 9 minutes for each side.
You’ll hear from the following deputees:
- Pat Brookes – Representing some of the Nutwick Road residents
- Shelley Saunders – Representing local residents and the Green party
- Bob Comlay – Representing Havant Civic Society and the New Lane/Eastern Road Neighbourhood Watch scheme
Each gets 3 minutes, apart from Mr. Comlay who was sent off after 2 minutes for a professional foul. (The Referee seemed to find it amusing.)
The next two deputations are from the representative of the Applicant and his Transport Consultant. The video clip also includes questions and answers asked of them, hence the length. In those questions, it’s worth noting the fact that Mr. Fry defers to Mr. Dix for the detailed questions asked of him by the committee.
Listening to Mr. Dix is reminiscent of the content of his documents, muddled, confused, and at times misleading to the casual ear. We’ve gone into a little more detail on a couple of examples which you can read in this separate post.
- Chris Fry – Chief Executive of Kingsbridge Estates Limited, owners of the site and along with Bridges Fund Management, partners in Havant Property Investment LLP, ‘the applicant’
- Ian Dix – Director of Vectos, the Transport Consultant for the applicant
We’d love to have asked a few questions here but once the Referee sends us off, we’re not allowed to speak.
Next we come to the debate. At this point, regular readers will be aware of our concern for the quality of debate in the Halls of the Civic Plaza. Debate at all levels, Council, Cabinet and Committee are not served well by the fact that Havant is a ‘one party state’. It really doesn’t matter what colour rosette that party pins on, as we’ve written before, a healthy borough council needs a balance of opinions, with a strong opposition to stimulate real debate and sound decision making. It would also be helpful if the Planning Committee actually included representatives of Havant and Hayling wards, the single Havant member present seemingly more distracted these days by County matters.
Hats off to Cllr. Howard for abstaining in this vote, despite clearly not having done her homework or listened to Mr. Eaves. Perhaps it was because she was sat closest to the Speaker’s table, could probably see that we all knew the material, and decided that ‘something wasn’t right’.
While we’re on the subject of that table, we did notice that Mr. Dix, the ‘transport consultant’, didn’t actually manage to navigate his way to the front when he addressed the meeting. If you didn’t spot that, go back and take a look.
So there you have it.
At the end of the day, the fact remains that there are still significant clarifications that need to be obtained and errors in critical data to be resolved. The Case Officer noted it in his report, and we highlighted it in our deputation. (For information our original 5 minute deputation can be read here, and the final 3 minute deputation read out at the meeting, is here.)
For the avoidance of doubt, the traffic numbers provided by the ‘intended occupier’ do not match the employment profile of the business described in the application. Staff vehicle movements are missing from the data, meaning that all calculations by HCC Highways and HBC Environmental Health should be questioned.
This traffic-generating proposition is completely inappropriate for a predominantly residential area with the site access crossing well-used cycle and pedestrian routes into central Havant, three primary schools, three NHS facilities, Warblington School and Havant & South Downs College.
This is another planning application approved that will come back to bite the town.
While you might have noted that Mr. Eaves said that there wasn’t another application on the table on a more appropriate site, well actually, there is:
The Planning Application for Brockhampton West was raised in March and judging by the documents very recently added, owner/developer Clowes have just appointed their Transport Consultant – yes, it’s Mr. Dix again.
Which has residents scratching their chins and wondering whether the RegenCo Framework and the Cabinet Lead for Economic Development might have thought he’d be a good fit for the role. After all, it was HBC that sold the land to Clowes in the first place.
Absolutely nothing would surprise us anymore.