The Portsmouth Water and Southern Water plans to tear up Havant, beginning in 2022

[Updated January 7, 2022: Minutes of PW/Bosmere Medical Centre meeting now available on Planning Portal]

This post gives an update on three major water utility projects which will be digging up the streets and fields near you in the coming months and years.

The Havant based water utility companies both have major new development programmes in the pipeline, some of which you might be unaware but all of which are going to cause significant disruption until the end of the decade.

Despite their local-sounding names, the two companies are, of course, now both in private ownership with the financial wellbeing of their shareholders taking precedence over any concerns expressed by the communities in which they operate.

If recent experience is anything to go by, public consultation on these future development programmes is now little more than a selective marketing exercise with scant regard to the views of impacted communities and customers. Havant Borough Council, a distracted and unopposed local authority which struggles to understand its own position on ‘stakeholder engagement’, seems to provide little or no effective overview and scrutiny of the development intentions of these two influential local landowners.

The first update concerns Portsmouth Water’s plan to sell their extensive town centre land assets for commercial development. Havant Borough Council, desperate for the 135 houses which will eventually be built on the old Water Company HQ site in West Street, appear to be turning a blind eye to the collateral damage which will be inflicted on Brockhampton Road, Solent Road and the Bosmere Medical Practice.

The second update concerns Southern Water’s proposal to import waste water from the Peel Common wastewater treatment works (WTW) near Fareham to feed a major new Water Recycling Plant (WRP) to be built near the Havant Budds Farm WTW. This is Southern Water’s fall-back option for strategic water supply following public objections to a previous vanity project at Ashlett Creek.

The third update concerns the major pipeline construction works needed to link the Budds Farm and Peel Common wastewater treatment works and the Brockhampton Springs to the Havant Thicket Reservoir in the north, with a further pipeline transporting the output from the reservoirs to the Otterbourne Water Supply Works (WSW) 35km away to the west.

For further detail, carry on reading:

Portsmouth Water’s town centre property deals

We’ve already covered the new Portsmouth Water HQ planning application at length over the past two years so we won’t repeat the detail here, other than to reinforce the fact that neither Portsmouth Water nor Havant Borough Council have covered themselves in glory with this planning application.

Serious concerns were raised at the Development Consultation Forum in October 2019, but these concerns have been completely ignored; Havant Borough Council does not consider the Bosmere Medical Practice and its 20,000 registered patients to be an ‘interested community group’ so the Practice appears to have been deliberately excluded from the planning process.

The strength of the public opinion expressed in more than 650 documented objections when the planning application was offered for public consultation should have come as no surprise to Portsmouth Water. The awkward fact, however, is that as the heavily-used community asset most directly impacted by the proposed development, they should have been, and still should be, consulted.

To give credit where credit is due, Cllr Imogen Payter became the first local Councillor to meet with the medical practice staff when she attended a meeting at the Bosmere Medical Practice on 30 November 2021, two years after the proposal was first aired and long after the public planning consultation period had closed. The meeting had been requested by Planning Consultant Natalie Fellows, who had been parachuted in by one of Portsmouth Water’s development partners to try and fix the public relations mess that this planning application has become.

I attended that meeting as a member of the Bosmere Medical Centre Patient Participation Group and in the absence of any other formal meeting output, I drafted and circulated minutes for the record on 6 December. Natalie Fellows acknowledged the draft and within an hour had added the missing names and roles of the developer’s attendees. The final document was circulated later that day and forwarded to the Case Officer to add to the public record on the Planning Portal where it was published on January 6.

To read the document, please take this link. As you can see, there are outstanding actions from that meeting both on Fellows Planning and on the Council. A copy of the deputation that was given to the Development Consultation Forum on behalf of the Bosmere Medical Centre two years earlier on 22 October 2019, can be found at this link. Slides prepared for that meeting can also be seen here, although given the Council’s rules, as an ordinary member of the public I was not able to show them. Only developers are afforded that courtesy in planning meetings.

Southern Water – Budds Farm WRP (Water Recycling Plant)

Earlier this year, Southern Water bowed to pressure from local residents, their engaged and effective local authority and their equally engaged and effective Conservative MP and dropped their plans to build a desalination plant at Ashlett Creek. As soon as that happened, Southern Water’s new strategic plan was always likely to be for a major new ‘Water Recycling Plant’ at Budds Farm, here in Havant.

The available alternative of balancing water supply by simply transferring excess water between the Southern Water, Wessex Water and Bristol Water regions had been included as an option in their ‘Water for Life‘ strategy, but it was kicked into the long grass as “part of the standard timeline with the rest of the water industry”. (That’s another way of saying that it would make sense if the water utilities were nationalised, but not while the individual companies remain in competitive private ownership.)

The new Havant initiative was formally announced in a Southern Water press release on 6 December 2021 and is likely to appear on the local Planning List in the New Year. It would mark a further expansion of the Budds Farm operation, which currently processes combined sewer output from both Portsmouth and Havant, adding waste output from Fareham’s Peel Common WTW via one of the many new pipelines to be constructed over the next decade.

The ‘grand plan’ is a joint programme of work between Portsmouth Water and Southern Water which will see the output from this new Water Recycling Plant mixed with fresh water from the Brockhampton Springs and pumped across town to the new Havant Thicket Reservoir.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Havant Thicket Reservoir is going to be full of drinking water because it’s actually just an ‘environmental buffer’ to hold the recycled wastewater output from the combined sewers of Portsmouth, Fareham and Havant, diluted with water from the Brockhampton Springs. Another 35 km of pipeline will be constructed to transfer the content of the reservoir west across Hampshire to the Otterbourne Water Supply Works (WSW) where further treatment will finally render it fit to be fed into the water supply network.

We will probably see a planning application for the new WRP (Water Recycling Plant) at some point early in the New Year, to be sited on or close to the existing Budds Farm WWT (Waste Water Treatment) facilities. For an explanation of the how this plant would operate, see the following video clip from Southern Water.

Environmental impact from Water Recycling

It’s worth noting the following passages from Southern Water’s own strategy document:

“Water recycling is a different, more complex process than traditional water treatment. It involves taking highly treated wastewater and using advanced treatment techniques to clean and purify it to drinking water standards.”

The waste handling requirements of water recycling are similar to those of desalination. Waste materials are removed to form either solid waste or brine. Roughly 20% of the treated wastewater would be returned to Budds Farm as brine and released out to sea via the site’s existing 5.7km outfall pipe. The solid waste would typically be taken away to landfill or possibly combined with the existing solid waste treatment processes at Budds Farm.

One of the concerns raised in objections to the Ashlett Creek desalination proposal was the environmental impact of a the concentrated brine which would be discharged into the Western Solent. The same concern exists here in the Eastern Solent.

The Southern Water and Portsmouth Water pipeline projects

You may not have realised it yet, but the pipeline construction work already approved by Havant Borough Council will soon start to cause significant disruption across Havant Town, Bedhampton, Leigh Park and Waterlooville residential streets. The planning application for the pipeline from the Brockhampton Springs to the new reservoir was approved earlier this year (2021) in parallel with the Havant Thicket Reservoir planning application. When the new Budds Farm WRP planning application arrives in 2022, we can expect to see changes to the planned capacity of that pipeline along with an extension of the works through to the new water recycling plant at Budds Farm.

Here’s a reminder of where the Havant Thicket Reservoir will be, and the route of the pipeline that will pass water between the Bedhampton pumping station and the reservoir. There will be significant disruption around the town from this construction activity over the next few years.

In order to support all this pipeline work, it seems that the existing Brockhampton Road ‘service yard’ is being upgraded and refurbished. HCS tracked Portsmouth Water’s planning application for a new site entrance in Brockhampton Road last year, though at the time there was no indication in the planning application of what the new entrance would be used for. It could, for example, be easily used to provide a preferred access to the new Portsmouth Water HQ site discussed earlier in this post.

However, we now have it directly from Portsmouth Water that the new entrance will simply facilitate access for the pipes and pumping equipment that will be stored at the service yard to support these pipeline projects over the next decade. It seems likely that the former Havant Plant Hire yard, also land owned by Portsmouth Water, also forms part of this storage plan.

The images in the slideshow above are:
1) The Brockhampton Road location with reference to Solent Road
2) The detail location for the service yards
3) The new Brockhampton Road Portsmouth Water entrance (approved by HBC in November 2021)
4) The Existing Service Yard, now to be used for pipeline storage
5) The former Havant Plant Hire yard – site owned by Portsmouth Water

So which streets will be dug up to lay these pipelines?

If you live near one of the roads below, take a look at the detailed plans showing the plan of the works near you.

Streets affectedLink to plan
Winterslow DrivePipeline – Section 1
Middle Park Way, High Lawn WayPipeline – Section 2
High Lawn Way, Ellisfield Road, Highclere AvenuePipeline – Section 3
Highclere Avenure, Purbrook WayPipeline – Section 4
Barncroft WayPipeline – Section 5
Fraser Road, Bedhampton Road, North Street, Brunswick GardensPipeline – Section 6
Detailed maps for sections of the pipeline

Finally, it’s not yet clear which of three optional routes will be selected for the 35 km pipeline to Otterbourne. If it takes one of the two westerly route options, it will impact parts of Waterlooville, whereas the southerly route via Budds Farm and then west to Otterbourne will, no doubt, further impact Havant, Leigh Park and Bedhampton.

Meanwhile, the inconvenient reality is that both companies have much to fix

The following photographs were taken by a Havant Civic Society member earlier this week, on 20 December. They show sewage and waste water backing up and causing flooding at the Manor Court apartments on Brockhampton Road.

This is the third time this year that the sewage pipe running through Manor Court and across the Portsmouth Water field has been overwhelmed and flooded into Manor Court. Our contact was told by a Southern Water engineer that the blockage was located in the same place as on previous occasions, that being in the middle of the field owned by Portsmouth Water. The very field on which Portsmouth Water plan to build their new offices and commercial buildings.

#rethinkhavant