Levelling-up funding – Disappointment for Havant

Southampton and Farnborough win £20 Million each, but once again, there’s nothing for Havant. Despite our rather tongue in cheek ‘new year’ post, we did hold out a slim hope that HBC would be more successful second time around.

Click to view – Levelling Up fund bid results – January 18 2023

Sadly, the result comes as little surprise given HBC’s near complete lack of serious engagement with residents and small businesses on the topic of Regeneration over the past four years. It seems likely that the demonstrably unachievable architectural vision developed by the council’s retained architects, and presented so poorly by Fabrik in the first round of the bid, has fallen at the second fence also.

On the plus side, this should mean a stay of execution for the Meridian Centre. One of the few positive outcomes of the four year long Regeneration program has been the palpable improvement in the atmosphere in that building since HBC took over the ownership and management. With a little lateral thinking and a genuine desire by HBC for round table engagement with the residents and small businesses, together we could build a realistic plan for regeneration.

Where this leaves the Bulbeck Road car park site remains to be seen. The recent successful bid for £1.8 Million funding from the  Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF) was conditional on the funds being used to demolish that building. Since the vision for redevelopment there was an integral part of the same unsuccessful levelling-up vision, Havant Borough Council may have to forgo that funding or risk condemning that site for years to be nothing more than a reincarnation of the surface car park which preceded it.

Incoming Chief Executive, Steve Jordan, will surely be taking a long hard look at just how much money has been wasted on pursuing an architectural vision which was as doomed to failure as the emperors new clothes.