We were pleased to see that HBC’s belated* response to the recently closed consultation followed the public mood fairly closely and didn’t pull many punches, missing just one of the significant objections made by many others.
‘Site 72’, or Brockhampton West as it’s more commonly known, is a former council landfill located close to the shore of the environmentally sensitive Langstone Harbour. With active content still venting gases, the site already presents engineering challenges for foundation piling given the risk of contamination. Those challenges could become unacceptable risks if Southern Water gain approval for the construction of a large vertical shaft linking three separate horizontal tunnels, one of which would be routed beneath the Hermitage stream to connect with Budds Farm.
While HBC missed the engineering risks from its objection to the proposal, the council rightly acknowledged the critical loss of several hundred employment opportunities. If the decision is made to approve the Development Consultation Order, the Water Recycling Plant and the high lift pumping station constructed at ‘Site 72’ will be largely automated and remotely operated, providing very few employment opportunities.
In previous reports on Brockhampton West, we’ve covered the recent history of this former HBC land asset, from its rather over-hasty sale to fund the ‘Regeneration Programme’ to the purchase by Clowes Development which resulted in the speculative outline planning application for ‘Solent Distribution Park’.
Within a month of HBC’s Planning Services issuing the decision notice for Brockhampton West, granting outline planning permission and thereby raising the site value, Clowes Development’s parallel discussions with Southern Water became public knowledge with the publication of the ‘Hampshire Water Transfer and Water Recycling Plan’ consultation documents.
It now seems that one of the points made in Tim Pike’s deputation to the Extraordinary Cabinet meeting of 18th November 2020 was rather well founded.
What is now abundantly clear is that Havant’s key strategic employment sites are in complete disarray. Now that the Brockhampton West site has been earmarked for Southern Water’s application for a Development Control Order, no development will take place until such time as the secretary of state makes a decision.
With future development at Dunsbury Park now dependent on the uncertain future of the Solent Freeport and the New Lane employment area’s strategic value now confused by the development of a massive edge-of-town distribution operation at its town centre gateway, an urgent reappraisal of Havant’s ‘key strategic employment sites’ is long overdue.
The only strategic employment site left would seem to be Langstone Park, already the subject of a ‘comprehensive masterplan‘. Like New Lane, that site’s rich manufacturing heritage seems to have been overlooked, right at the time when the concepts of off-shore manufacturing and international supply chains are being called into question.
What we need, apparently, is more sheds.
* We hope that Southern Water don’t take too pedantic a stance on the date of the HBC response.