‘Land at Palk Road’ Development Consultation Forum

The Development Consultation Forum is a platform for a developer to share their proposal with the council and interested community groups along with the public before moving onto the planning application stage. For further details of the objective of the Development Consultation Forum, look at the Havant Borough Council DCF page here.

The good news is that after Covid shut these public forums down in 2020, they’re back, and the DCF held on August 23rd covering Bellway Homes‘ proposals for Palk Road proved to be an interesting session.

  1. Introduction
  2. DCF 51 ‘Land at Palk Road’
  3. Questions from Councillors
  4. Questions from the public
  5. In summary


To set the scene, you can take a look at the site context in this composite image showing the area surrounding Bedhampton Station. In these images, Bedhampton Road curves up into New Road at the top, with the railway line and the crossing gates below and West Street heading off to the lower right. The second image overlays Bellway’s proposal for 90 housing units.

Here’s the view when driving out of Havant on West Street, as it appears on the rare occasions when there’s no traffic queuing back from Bedhampton gates. Palk Road is on the left, immediately opposite the Seward car dealership and the auto repair body shop.

The two previous Development Consultation Forum sessions had both been linked to the same area. DCF 50 ‘Land at Kingscroft Farm, Meyrick Road’ covered Foreman Homes’ proposal to extend its development at Abrams Way, while DCF 49 gave residents their first site of Portsmouth Water’s plans for its new headquarters and the impact on the Bosmere Medical Practice. Take the links in that previous sentence if you want to be reminded of those meetings.

DCF 51 ‘Land at Palk Road’

Held at the Civic Plaza on Tuesday 23rd August, 2022.

Representing HBC:

  • Cllr. Clare Satchwell – Chair
  • Gary Christie – Case Officer
  • Steve Weaver – Planning Services

Representing Bellway Homes:

  • David Nash
  • Nick Guildford

Representing Tetratech and Portsmouth Water

  • Chris Lyons

Representing A2 Architecture:

  • Sam Antar

Representing Paul Basham Associates

  • Jessica Lloyd

Steve Weaver introduced the meeting, the first DCF held since the COVID break, before handing over to Gary Christie, the case officer assigned to Bellway Homes’ pre-application inquiry.

Mr. Christie gave an overview of the site which is currently used by Portsmouth Water for general storage, including the storage of pipes.

He then summarised the planning process, covering the framework of sources against which any forthcominig planning application would be assessed. Those sources, including the current Local Plan and the Housing Delivery Position Statement showed suggested suitability for a total of 36 homes, against the Bellway proposal for 90 homes. Access to West Street and the proximity to the railway crossing were unsurprisingly cited as potential Highway issues.

Chris Lyons, as Planning Consultant for Bellway Homes, no doubt building on his work and relationships from other local Portsmouth Water sites, is leading the planning strategy for the site. The sales pitch for the Palk Road site builds on the fact that the existing pipe storage would go and in its place would be ‘a nice housing development with an attractive urban park’. The traffic from cars on the site [as the transport assessment, when written, will inevitably demonstrate] would be less disruptive than the existing truck movements into and out from the site, playing down the potential for highway issues. What the town would get would be 90 modern, sustainable housing units in good walking distance of town on a site with a 35% reduction in hardstanding and including 40% green space.

David Nash gave a standard marketing pitch for Bellway Wessex, including reference to its ‘Better by Bellway‘ business practice.

Gary Christie gave feedback on comments received prior to the meeting before Cllr. Satchwell opened the meeting up to questions from the local councillors.

Questions from Councillors

Cllr. Crellin, Chair of the Planning Committee, kicked this part of the session off with a curiously soft question, asking whether the flood zone ran alongside the stream. ‘Yes’, came the reply from Chris Lyons. Her next question concerned the work which would be needed on access roads. Jessica Lloyd reassured us all by saying that she was ‘talking to Hampshire County Council’.

The questions began to get more meaningful when Cllr. Patel asked Mr. Lyons what percentage of the area on the site would be allocated to gardens? He was clearly trying to tease out whether or not the homeowners and tenants would have some private outdoor space of their own. The prospective developer’s response was that many of the units would have balconies and it was possible that roof terraces could be designed, [no doubt to provide a good view of the trains.]

Cllr. Lloyd then asked whether the units would have photovoltaic cells and electric vehicle charging points, causing the Bellway contingent to look at their planning consultant in sheer disbelief that the question had been asked. Cllr. Lloyd continued, asking what features the developer proposed to build in to make these homes ‘affordable’ to live in?

David Nash, for Bellway Homes, responded that the company’s policy for sustainability was ‘fabric first,’ and that their standard designs don’t include any specific sustainability options. Cllr. Lloyd persisted, calling out the fact that Bellway were ‘still using Fabric First’ and questioning whether or not Bellway planned any solar input to the proposed Palk Road buildings. Mr. Nash’s response suggested that he wasn’t taking the question particularly seriously. “Well some of the buildings will be south and west facing so there will be some solar gain’.

Cllr. Keast now stepped up the pressure, asking first who would be responsible for management of the open space. The response offered, after a brief exchange between developer and planning consultant, suggested that a committee made up of the residents might do it. Cllr Keast reloaded and then asked whereabouts on the plan the ‘affordable homes’ would be. The inevitable response, after a bit of gesticulation at the picture on the screen was ‘the ones alongside the railway line’. When told that HBC’s policy is quite rightly to ‘pepper-pot’ affordable homes across a new estate, the development team started to realise that their ‘pile ’em high, build ’em cheap’ strategy wasn’t going to win any friends in the room.

Cllr. Stone continued the theme, asking whether the affordable homes in the plan were spread evenly across the 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units? I’m not sure that he even received an answer to that one!

Cllr. Patel, perhaps thinking of the Aura House saga, then asked how far from the line the nearest homes would be? Between 16 and 18 metres came the answer.

Cllr. Pike then turned wearily to the inevitable matters of transport and highways. Given the problems elsewhere in the immediate area with unadopted roads and ‘ransom strips’, what were the developers plans with regard to the currently unadopted Palk Road? Ms. Lloyd, the transport consultant, replied that there was no current plan to seek adoption for the road. When pressed by Cllr. Pike about how the site would be accessed from the wider network, it seemed that traffic consultancy was being made up on the hoof, so to speak: “60% from the north, 40% from the south”. Just think about that for a while and refer back to the plan above. The standard of transport consultants deployed by developers on HBC planning applications doesn’t seem to improve.

To wrap up his questions, Cllr. Pike then implored the developers to work with the ward councillors and the residents when forming their construction management plan. The planning consultant gave an affirmative response.

Cllr. Keast then asked another gem. How would residents’ laundry drying be handled, were the developers proposing that laundry should be hung out over balconies? Or would they design purpose built shared ‘drying rooms’, just like we did in the old days? No, came the response, they’d not got to that level of design. All of that detail, of course, will be included in the planning application, when submitted.

Cllr. Lloyd, refusing to give up, asked whether the housing units will be using solar heating? Is there a central site heating approach? Nick Guildford muttered a long sentence which included the words ‘pathway’ and ‘future homes standard’ but didn’t actually state the answer that we all knew he didn’t have!

Cllr. Satchwell now opened the meeting to the public gallery.

Questions from the public

The first question pressed Mr. Nash on his earlier statement that Bellway Homes’ are working towards future homes standard. Are your customers already asking for features like heat pumps? The inevitable response was that Bellway were ‘committing to improve things’ but their current direction would be to remain on the same ‘national pathway’ that others national homebuilders are on.

Considering the problems that residents of even new builds have had keeping cool in two recent heatwaves, what measures will keep these homes to reasonable temperatures? Mr Nash responded that there could be ‘things like rebated balconies and air-sourced heat pumps’ (Really?!)

Another member of the public asked whether Bellway Homes will commit to leading the market and getting as close to passivhaus standards and commonhold occupancy as possible? Whether he expected a sensible answer is not known but the level of waffle that came back in response was sufficient to cause the questioner to retort, probably justifiably, “The minimum you can get away with then!”

It was at this point that Cllr. Crellin questioned whether Bellway Homes were only doing this since they thought it would help with HBC’s current housing shortfall. A curious question from the Planning Committee chair.

Cllr. Linger asked about access to schools, Ms Lloyd responded with some standard stuff about ‘pushchairs and pavements’.

Cllr. Lloyd got back on the subject of photovoltaic – solar – panels. Since the developers had eventually admitted that there would be a few solar panels on the building, what would they be servicing? Would they be just to top up the EV chargers? Since Bellway hadn’t actually stated there would be any EV chargers, it was probably a moot point, but the response eventually stated that the solar panels would not be ‘just for the EV chargers’.

A member of the public asked for clarification of the ownership of the site. Was it still Portsmouth Water? The response, from Bellways Homes, was ‘We do, and we lease it back to Portsmouth Water’.

Further questions from the floor asked whether ‘all properties would have balconies?’and ‘what plans do Bellway have for incorporation of play areas on the site?’. ‘Wait for the detail in the planning application’ came back the response.

A resident from Palk road asked whether Bellway would work together with the community and the Council on an upgrade to the adoption status of the road before road the planning application is submitted? At this point, Cllr. Pike commented that Portsmouth Water might be leaving the town with yet another small piece of unadopted road as a ransom strip, believed to be an allusion to ongoing difficulties in the area of Ranleagh road.

A West Street resident expressed the concern that this proposed development isn’t in keeping with the rest of West Street, and allowing housing of perceived lower quality at Palk Road would then set a precedent for other developers on land further down the Hermitage stream. Mr. Nash reminded the meeting that Palk Road wasn’t in fact West Street, it was a road ‘off’ West Street. Chris Lyons gave one of his trademark smirks.

Sam Antar, the architect, remained tight-lipped throughout the meeting and wasn’t invited by the developer to contribute to the process.

In summary

It was a good, informative session, at least as far as the input from the HBC Councillors went. The developers will go away, look at any notes they might have made, and if past examples are anything to go by, will completely ignore this feedback. They’ve achieved their aim and got a ‘tick’ in the ‘DCF’ box.

The Councillors present, led from the front by Cllrs. Elizabeth Lloyd and David Keast, the former and current chairs of the HBC Overview and Scrutiny Committee, raised important points which deserve to be taken note of. When this comes before a future Planning Committee, we’ll make sure that these points are still in the public domain.

This site presents a golden opportunity for Havant Borough Council to work proactively with Bellway Homes to build a new generation of sustainable affordable housing as a ‘future homes’ example to both the building industry and peer local authorities. By investing in the Palk Road site as a pilot scheme for medium to high density brownfield re-development, using the feedback received from this session with regard to shared community space and energy efficiency, Bellway Homes, HBC and residents on the local housing list could all be winners.

The comments about site ownership and the talk of unadopted streets and ransom strips sparked further thought so we’ve given the Cub Reporter a task to have a rummage through the files.

More on this later.