32 New Lane – The full story on traffic and jobs?

Updated – 03-4-2021:
Read the main story here
Read our media comment here
Read our ‘Fact check’ post here

Consultation on this plan officially closes on Tuesday but comments can still be made online after that date. If you feel strongly about this, please do make your views known. Full details are given in the ‘Main story’ post, see the link above.

So far, neither the applicant – Havant Property Investment LLP, better known as Kingsbridge Estates with Bridges Fund Management – nor their Agent – Luken Beck – has come clean about the name of the ‘intended occupant’ they’re proposing to install at the former Pfizer Cold Chain Warehouse site.

Nor have they come clean about the real impact of traffic generated by the site, submitting a Transport Assessment (aka Transport Statement) which is riddled with inconsistencies and misses significant detail which would clearly be inconvenient to them.

We were recently encouraged to find that Hampshire County Council Highways share some of our misgivings but we’re not yet convinced that HCCH fully understand the nature of Havant’s rat run traffic issues.

Nor has the applicant come clean about the number of proposed employees, having deliberately left section 18 of the Application Form blank. Of course it’s quite possible that they just don’t know how to fill the numbers in given the type of business proposed.

Maybe a change to the form would help here:

We took a deeper look at the likely number and quality of the employment opportunities that a site of that nature and scale would generate. Only after doing this could we predict the real impact of the traffic with any degree of accuracy.

There will be jobs, for sure. Not all current employees of the unnamed company will be consolidated on this site. But let’s just think for a moment about the quality of those jobs. Half of them will likely be self-employed drivers on target-driven pay, with deductions for rental of the vans they’re using, while most of the remainder will be low paid, low skilled warehouse opportunities working in three shifts, round the clock, seven days a week. If you’ve forgotten that Scottish Daily Record undercover report on Amazon’s Last Mile hub in Lanarkshire, it’s worth reading again. Click the link.

Having taken a look at the quality of those jobs, let’s first look at the scale of the traffic. Previously, we were considering ‘just’ the HGV and LGV movements from the site, totalling near 2,500 vehicle movements per day. As if that wasn’t bad enough given the dreadful state of Havant’s traffic in normal times, you can now multiply that figure by 220% to get the real figures once you add in the impact of staff and driver commuting.

Operations in the warehouse will be running 24 hours a day, on a three shift basis, with a midnight shift changeover which would potentially generate another 400+ traffic movements through the local residential streets between 11:30pm and 01:00am.

Let’s have a look at the traffic movements in and out of the site:

With almost 800 vehicle movements at the site in the peak morning hour, it’s no wonder that they’re seeking planning permission for a new, third exit onto New Lane.

We’ll be able to confirm those figures once the Applicant completes the missing details and we can be certain that when they’ve figured out the best way to spin the ’employment’ data, the number will be sold as the headline grabber. At the end of the day, however, the real headline grabbing number is this one:

Vehicle movements

each day.

All of them using the well known rat-runs.

The real losers?

While the whole town loses out here because of the traffic impact, it’s the young and the unemployed who actually stand to lose the most. This is hardly ‘levelling up’ the local economy to use a fashionably meaningless term.

When the full Havant Borough Council Council signed off the Regeneration Strategy on November 7th, 2018, they committed to the following actions on ‘Skill levels’ and ‘Earnings’:

To work in partnership with business to boost employment within higher value roles – managerial, technical and professional occupations to increase local spending power.

To work in partnership with business to drive up the skill profile of the resident workforce to take advantage of higher value roles created within the Borough.

To increase wage levels of Havant residents by driving up the resident skills profile and creating higher value job opportunities in key sectors

We expect Havant Borough Council to make the right decisions for the future of the town and its kids. Please don’t let them down. Above all, don’t throw away a site that is perfect for the kind of employment that would satisfy those actions.

This application should be welcomed, but only if appropriately sited south of the A27 or alongside the A3(M), sites which would also be in the best commercial interests of the unnamed ‘intended occupant’.

You can turn this into a win-win, don’t ruin the real opportunity you have with New Lane.


#rethinkhavant

End of the line for the last town Gasholder

Do you remember the days when you could watch the local gasholders sink down as the nation cooked their Sunday lunchtime roast dinners? Well those memories have long become history.

In another small step in what we would like to think would be the intelligent regeneration of the New Lane employment area, a planning application has been submitted on behalf of SGN (formerly Scotia Gas Networks) “to determine whether prior approval is required for the method of demolition of one gasholder and associated structures”.

The old town gasholder sits just to the north of the Spring Business Park, currently under construction on the site of the former Buttericks factory which is still visible on this current Google Earth image.

It’s a small, but useful piece of real estate and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kingsbridge Estates were looking to add this to their New Lane portfolio. If they are, then we really hope that they have an eye to the future and would be looking to capitalise on the potential benefits to Havant from the Solent Freeport initiative.

Other New Lane business owners will be taking a keen interest in the opportunities presented by a Solent freeport, including the now Danish owned Eaton Hydraulics and the Yantai Moon Group, the Chinese conglomerate who now hold a controlling shareholding in Dunham Bush. With much of the DeLonghi Group‘s production coming from China and destined for export to Europe and beyond, their Italian owners will also be paying close attention to the opportunities presented by the freeport initiative for the DeLonghi, Kenwood and Braun brands.

Meanwhile, the New Lane heavyweights, Kattenhorn and Marsh Plant, will no doubt be looking at the potential ‘freeport bonus’ increase in the value of their land assets. Both own sites in the ‘land-locked’ New Lane estate, with business uses well past their sell-by-dates .

We’re living in interesting times and it would be extremely short sighted to waste a large potential freeport opportunity on a purely UK internal warehousing and distribution business like the one proposed for 32 New Lane.

#rethinkhavant

Fact Checking the New Lane ‘Last mile delivery’ hub application

Let’s just try and ‘fact check’ our post on the planning submission for 32 New Lane.

Statement (Fact)Source
So who actually is it?Until the applicant comes clean and completes the documentation properly, we won’t know. All we’ve said is that based on the information given, the ‘100 sites across Europe’ listed in the documentation link to at least well known one pan-European operator. Rumours abound on social media, but we’d prefer it not to be the outfit who didn’t come off too well in Bathgate and Tilbury.
150 Jobs will be lost, no new jobs created? (Fact)The application document shows 150 existing jobs will be lost at the site, but does not include any figure for new jobs provided. The ‘relocation’ and ‘consolidation’ quotes are attributable.
Source: Application Form – Section 18
Or is that really fake news? Well, to tell the truth, nobody will know until the applicant fills in the missing information on the rather shoddily presented Application Form. Of course, any operation of the size and scale of the one that appears to be described in the documentation needs employees, or perhaps we should say ‘sweatshop labour’. We’ve discussed that a bit further here.
‘Around 2,500 truck movements a day?’ (Fact)The number quoted in the Transport Statement is 2,415 movements of Heavy Goods Vehicles and Light Goods Vehicles per day. The actual source numbers come from the ‘Occupier Traffic Data’, Appendix F, Transport Statement (Part 3)
95 % of the traffic will be heading straight out of, or straight into town through the existing traffic hotspots. (Fact)
Source: Transport Statement, Table 5.6
‘Two thirds of this traffic will be at peak times’. (Fact)We define peak times as 06:00 to 08:59, and 16:00 to 18:59. Using these time intervals, the actual percentage from their own figures is 66.1%.
Source: Appendix F, Transport Statement (Part 3)
This is not a sustainable ‘Last mile delivery’ opportunity. (Fact)Read the UK Government’s position statement on last mile logistics, and then look at the City of London’s recent approval of an Amazon, sustainable ‘last mile delivery’ hub, the scale of which is completely different to that proposed at 32 New Lane. What we have here is simply a proposal for an industrial scale warehousing and distribution operation. The 2,500 diesel powered goods vehicle movements each day from within a town centre residential population is hardly sustainable!

It is at this point where we have to hold our hands up. The next fact was going to be “29% of the traffic will be routed down New Lane towards Eastern Road”. Now we found this figure in a couple of places in the Transport Statement, imbedded in graphics of tables so don’t bother trying to search for them without looking at every page!

What is particularly interesting in this table is that it tells us, given that there are only three ways in and out of the site by road, that 70% of the traffic will be taking off vertically and flying out the site. Most impressive we thought, and then we encountered another chart on the very next page…

Life’s really too short to try and square Table 5.8 with Table 5.7, but the really important thing to take away from this is:

Property Investment Companies hunt for ‘Intended Occupiers’ then employ Developers who employ Agents to contract Specialist Agencies to produce this nonsense. In this whole perpetual game of Chinese whispers, the vast piles of documentation that lands on the overloaded Planning Officer’s desk is simply there to impress by its sheer weight.

It probably even arrived by a courier service along with a DVD containing all the soft copy.

Applying the realistic scenario development trips to the likely route choices results in vehicular trip distribution as shown…

“Consultant-speak”

It’s important to understand why large companies throw lots of money at consultants to write their documents for them. Take this example from the Conclusion of the Transport Statement – the only page, we’ll wager, that most officers and Councillors will ever read:

“The occupier proposes to use the site as a ‘last mile’ distribution centre, where parcels are delivered via small vans to customers in the local area. The occupier is looking to consolidate their operations on one site and this has resulted in the current proposal for the van storage deck which would house the van fleet overnight while the drivers are not out on deliveries as opposed to vans being stored in the local area on separate sites.”

Let’s just unpick that paragraph:

parcels are delivered via small vansThese will be large, long wheelbase ‘Transit’ type vehicles, capable of holding a days worth of deliveries
to customers in the local area The deliveries are to customers over the whole of Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey. Only 5% of them will be to the ‘local’ Havant Borough area.
the occupier is looking to consolidate their operations
on one site
Their business plan is to close smaller sites throughout the the three counties to get everything in one place. They will not be making their staff redundant but will be relocating them to New Lane. That’s why they want to be near the station, so some of their current workforce can get here more easily. There are no new jobs associated with this planning application.
house the van fleet overnight while the drivers are not out on deliveriesThe vans have to be onsite overnight since it’s their night shift workers that will fill them up ready for the drivers in the morning!
as opposed to vans being stored in the local area on separate sites.Sounds good? No more vans parked outside houses overnight? No. See the previous line. The vans have to be onsite overnight otherwise their business model doesn’t work.

If the Planning Officer doesn’t have the time to wade through this nonsense, and we know that the Traffic Management Team didn’t, then there’s absolutely no chance that the Councillors who make up the Planning Committee and make the decisions which dictate the future of the town, will be able to make the time either!

Reminder – there are local elections coming up.

#rethinkhavant

How to find and comment on a planning application

Commenting on a planning application is a relatively simple process. If you’ve ever written a product review online, then you can certainly do this!

We’ve shown a simple six step process here for first Finding, and then Commenting on a planning application. Normally, if we give you a link to comment on a planning application in one of the website articles, then that link will take you straight to Step 5.

If you just want to see what planning applications there are in the Havant Borough Council area, the first place to go is the Planning Public Access page. Click that link and the following page will open in a new browser tab.

Note, the images shown below are a from a Windows PC, the appearance on a phone will be different but the content will be the same. It is actually much easier to work on this from a PC /Laptop screen if you can

Step 1

Enter your search text in the box next to the green Search button and when you’ve entered the details, press the button. In this example, we’ve entered ‘Market Parade’.

Note, if you already know the Planning Application Reference Number, which will be something like APP/21/0001, then enter that number as your search.

Step 2

You’ll now see a list of planning applications in date order, newest at the top. Find the one you’re interested in and click the blue link text.

Step 3

The next screen shows the summary of the planning application that you’ve selected.

Note that there are a set of ‘tabs’, starting with ‘Details‘ and followed by ‘Comments’, ‘Documents’ and ‘Related Cases’. In the image below, we’ve highlighted the ‘Documents‘ tab and the ‘Make a Comment‘ button.

The Details tab gives a summary of the application, and also allows you to see ‘Further information‘, ‘Contacts‘ and ‘Important Dates‘.

The screen that we’ll show next is the one you’ll see when you select the ‘Documents‘ tab. (Note the count showing how many documents there are).

Note If the application is straightforward, perhaps for a conservatory or to cut down a tree, then there will be just a couple of documents, whereas if the application is for a new housing estate there could easily be 50+ documents covering all aspects of the works. 

Step 4

The Documents page will show you a list of the documents associated with the planning application, the most recent being shown first.

Note that on the right hand side of this image, you will see small icons against each document, circled in red in this example. Click those icons to open and read the documents, which will each open in a separate browser tab.

Note This part much easier on a PC than on a phone!

Once you’ve read the documents that interest you and have decided you want to make a comment, then find the ‘Make a Comment button at the top of the page and press it!

Step 5 – Making a Comment

In this example, we show the screen that will appear when you press the ‘Make a Comment’ button on an application. Please note that you do not have to register with the council to see these and comment, but you will have to give a valid name, address, postcode and email address.

When you select the ‘Commenter’ type drop down, pick ‘Complainant‘ – the selections are not exactly clear!

The other important selection to make, highlighted above in red, is your ‘Stance’ on the application, whether you Object, Support or are ‘Neutral’.

Once you’ve done that, you can write your comments in the big box underneath.

Note that you have a limit of 5000 words and you also have a time limit of 30 minutes. You may find it easier to write your comments in a text editor first, then simply cut and paste them into this box.

Step 6

When you’ve finished filling in your comments, simply press the green Submit button. You do not have to register with the Council if you do not wish to.

Final note, Just like product reviews, there is some checking the Council does before your comment is published, so it may take a couple of days before your comment appears.  You will be able to see the comment you have made and comments made by other people.  

The Pfizer site plan – 2,500 extra HGV/LGV and 3,000 extra car movements every day – the 24/7 cost to our residential streets.

Updated – 02-4-2021:
Read our media comment here
Read our ‘Fact check’ post here
Read our update on traffic numbers and jobs

When we first reported on this one, we only had part of the story. To be honest, even now, we have less than three quarters of the story given that the planning application was submitted, probably deliberately, lacking significant information. It makes it hard for the Case Officer in Planning Services and just as hard for us to make sense of it and report on it. Such applications should never really get validated and loaded to the planning portal in that state. However, developers know only too well that we have to spend hours digging through pages of turgid nonsense before we can actually identify the critical stuff that is missing.

The application to build what it calls a ‘last mile’ storage and distribution hub on the former Pfizer site in New Lane is such a proposal. It’s one that, if passed, would generate around 2,500 new daily goods vehicle movements past residential properties and schools. In order to support those deliveries, we estimate that there will be another 3,000 commuting vehicle movements generated by three shifts of sweatshop warehouse staff and a car park full of almost 900 van drivers. These 5,500 vehicle movements will continue outside normal peak hours given the three shift 24/7 operation that’s proposed.

Almost all of the goods vehicle movements and most of the commuting traffic will be heading out to the A27 and A3(M), transporting staff and delivering packages to addresses in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey while adding an unsustainable volume to the town’s traffic problems, two thirds of it at peak times.

The unnamed occupier plans to ‘consolidate their operations’ at the site, relocating operations, we are led to assume, from other, smaller locations within the three counties. The application states there will be 150 jobs lost at New Lane but remains completely blank as to whether new jobs are being created. In reality, the applicant is leaving the vital information off, just so they can come out with a banner headline like “DHLazon will bring 1,500 jobs to Havant” right at the last minute in an attempt to hold the Council over a barrel.

We remain optimistic that the Planning Committee will take a rather broader view of the pros and cons and not give up on what New Lane ought to be.

The proposal is to demolish the existing Pfizer cold store warehouse in New Lane and replace it by a large warehouse and storage unit with an equally large three floor multi-storey ‘car park’ for up to 866 Light Goods Vehicles – long wheelbase ‘Transit’ type vans.

Inbound deliveries will arrive by 32 daily HGV movements, mostly overnight, for sorting in the warehouse before loading onto vans for doorstep delivery across the three counties at the start of the day. The first vans will leave the site around 6am with the last returning around 11pm and all in all, there will be almost two and a half thousand van movements a day, seven days a week. That is a lot of traffic coming in to and out of the site.

From the the information within the documents which accompany the application, we can deduce a few things about the scale of the operation and so to help brighten up the graphics, we’ve made up a little logo for them:

Where this all starts to get a bit barking is in the choice of the New Lane employment area as a site. Most sensible last mile storage and distribution operators like DPD work from ‘edge-of-town’ sites where they can access the main arterial road network directly.

The New Lane employment site, which sixty years ago was an edge-of-town industrial estate, is now effectively landlocked by extensive residential development. To reach the major arterial roads, any traffic from New Lane must pass through the most congested traffic pinch points in the area:

  • Park Road North
  • New Lane Level crossing
  • Bartons Road/Emsworth Common Road junction
  • Bartons Road/Petersfield Road junction
  • New Road/Bedhampton Hill/The Rusty Cutter roundabout

You can see a few of the problems illustrated in the graphic below. Not only surrounded by houses but also surrounded by those traffic hot-spots and a lot of local schools. To get out to the A27, west or east, the site traffic will simply contribute to the existing traffic hotspots that lie naturally on its route. The same applies to vans trying to head towards the A3(M) via Purbrook Way and Hulbert Road or via the B2149 to Horndean.

That’s 2,500 vehicle movements a day, all generated from within the town, all trying to get out to, and back from, the major road network that’s out there on the edge of town..

DPD will be rubbing their hands with glee. The only time they need to negotiate these hotspots will be when they actually have a doorstep delivery in Havant, that’s just 5% of their journeys. Their competitor, should they unwisely choose the New Lane site, will be stuck in Havant’s traffic for 95% of theirs! (The percentage figures come from their own application, this isn’t rocket science!)

The issue for us all is that to meet their delivery promises and to attempt to buck the traffic, the applicant proposes to route their delivery vans through the most constrained residential streets south of the site, using the New Lane level crossing if they’re heading for the A27 east, New Road if they’re heading for the A27 west, or Park Road North if they’re just feeling lucky. In any event, they’ve indicated that they’ll be ignoring the advisory HGV routing on Crossland Drive as “dictated by local demand and current traffic conditions”.

It would be absolute madness for the Council to approve this application on this particular site and we appeal to them to take a very long hard look at this. The HBC Local Plan and the HBC Regeneration Strategy both very deliberately state an intention for ‘last mile delivery’ operations to be located at the current edge-of-town sites, Dunsbury Farm, where DPD have already set up a similar operation, or the recently sold Brockhampton West for which an appropriate outline planning application currently exists – APP/21/00189.

What should you do next?

Please take the time to read some of the documents that are available. Either on the Council website or on ours.

Where to go next?

New! If you’ve never viewed the detail of a planning application before, or have never submitted a comment against an application, you might like to read our simple illustrated guide which shows you how.

You can go straight to the HBC Planning Application documents for the Pfizer site application by clicking this link.

If you don’t have the time to wade through the application and its documents, you can read a summary of the detail in just seven pages, including an analysis of how it might affect you, by taking this link.

To go straight to the the official online form for making your comments, click this link.

Responses must be in by April 6th.

Sadly, it would appear that Havant Borough Council’s “Traffic Management Team” didn’t bother to read any of the paperwork before submitting their nine word response, circled in red, below.

Is it any wonder why the traffic in the town in normal times is so bad?!

#rethinkhavant

Brockhampton West – Application for Outline Planning

Having called their bluff over the possibility that they might have created another ‘Potash Terrace‘, there are signs that at least part of the HBC Regeneration Strategy might actually be getting somewhere – either by accident or by design. It appears that despite previous concerns held by residents groups and back-bench councillors alike, there actually might be a viable plan coming forward for Brockhampton West.

We’ll reserve judgement, of course, given that landowners around here have a habit of sitting on sites, sometimes for decades, maximising their profits by simply obtaining the outline planning permission which adds value to their investment. This application is just that, an application for outline planning approval. However, this one m-i-g-h-t just be different so since we’re in an upbeat mood today and looking at it in a positive light, let’s take a look at what’s proposed.

The application offers three indicative site layouts as illustrations. These show either one, two or three large three storey sheds, with HGV and car parking, which is in line with the objective for the site set out in the Opportunity Havant Regeneration Strategy. Located with direct access to the major A27/A3(M) junction, this is an application to build a site for letting to distribution / warehousing / ‘last mile’ delivery operations.

The proposed style of the structure would be difficult to reimagine, but the following elevations, which relate to the single large ‘Unit 1’ option above, give an idea of the kind of structure that we might expect in a later planning application.

The company who have acquired the land are Derbyshire-based Clowes Development Ltd. a company with a dozen ‘land development’ projects in the UK, most clustered around their home in Derbyshire and just a couple as far south as London. They’re not the first Derbyshire-based development company to look south, Bloor Homes are also active in this area though on East Hants’ land at Dell Piece East.

Clowes Development make bold claims on their website:

Each of our projects includes a commitment to its neighbouring communities to not only create a better environment but to leave an employment and skills legacy, enabling future generations to prosper. We take our responsibility to do the right thing very seriously. It’s what separates us from our peers. Very few companies can – or will – do what we do.

Our Property Development & Investment Approach | Clowes Developments – (noted!)

They’ve certainly done their homework and there’s a weighty set of documentation that appeared on the DVD that accompanied their cheque for £19,574 to HBC. You can take a look at it all here if you want to get down in the weeds of the detail. Otherwise, read on for a few highlights.

The ‘Preliminary Geo-Environmental Risk Assessment’ is a good place to start if you’re concerned about what’s beneath the surface on that former landfill site. (It’s got a lovely ‘green’ cover and since this staff writer is a sucker for beech leaves it was the obvious place to start.) Click the image to open the document.

The nine appendices are where the detail is, and there’s a lot of it if you really feel like going through it. Refer to the planning application itself and you’ll see them loaded as nine separate documents at the bottom of the list.

For those who just like looking at old maps, Appendix D – Selected Historical Maps is the one to look at and the file which includes the old Soviet military Cold War map we used in our ‘teaser’ post yesterday. Be warned, at 16Mb this appendix is no lightweight file but for map enthusiasts, you can view all 50 pages here.

It’s worth noting that some of the maps used throughout this application show the land as a ‘Playing Field’ and the response from Sport England offers a suggestion for those that consider that this application “involves the loss of any sports facility”. Other documentation includes The Design and Access Statement which is usually worth a quick look. For those looking at the green credentials of the development, the BREEAM Assessment document for the sustainability of new development can be found here.

The Consultee response from Hampshire Archaeology is a little sad. In his letter, David Hopkins, the County Archaeologist, does not object to the application but adds the historical note that “Archaeological sites were recorded when the land was stripped in preparation for land reclamation. It seems very likely that the archaeological potential of the site, which would have been high given the harbour edge location, has been removed or severely compromised.” . This raises an important point with regard to the Campdown site development, for which a new planning application is expected by Persimmon Homes. Campdown has a rich archaeological history, as well as ecological importance, and we will be taking a strong line with that application when it appears.

Clowes Development have also included a comprehensive-looking Ecology Report . In their response, we note that the RSPB as a consultee, have objected to the application on the grounds that it “fails to consider indirect impacts towards adjacent functionally-linked land to internationally designated sites and therefore is not compliant with The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.”

Havant Civic Society do not currently plan to object to the application given the strategic benefits already identified in the Regeneration Strategy. Once developed, or should that be if it gets developed, it will provide much needed employment in a strategic industry sector which could pull through further business opportunity. The location of this employment site should not impact town centre traffic although the loading on the Bedhampton ‘teardrop’ A27/A3(M) interchange may require fine tuning.

We note that HBC are already getting more than a little excited by the ‘opportunities’ which could be offered by last week’s announcement in the budget of the shortlisting of the ‘Solent Freeport’ bid. Cllr. Wilson, Leader of the Council, made reference to HBC’s involvement in the Solent LEP Freeport Bid in a recent Council meeting, though at the time he was citing the Dunsbury Farm employment site on the A3(M) (a site actually owned by Portsmouth City Council). The Brockhampton West site, developed along the lines of this current outline planning application, would be a good fit with the Freeport and we’ll be writing more on that in the next few days.

Some might think it’s rather a shame that Havant Borough Council decided to sell this last major land asset they possessed. With the increased focus from the Freeport ‘opportunity’ and the benefit of outline planning approval, it could be only a matter of months before Clowes simply capitalise on the investment they’ve made in all these documents. It took the original purchaser of Potash Terrace several years.

If you want to comment on this application, please take this link to be taken to the HBC ‘Comments’ page.

Last but not least, the first ‘HCS Comic Sans‘ award of 2021 goes to ‘Shirley’ at the the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Congratulations Shirley! Yes, it’s the first time that we’ve seen an otherwise professional piece of documentation attached to a planning application using this immature and silly font this year!

#rethinkhavant

Brockhamptonski Westvitch

No. The Russians haven’t landed, but the first preliminary application for Brockhampton West has.

This is probably the first time that any planning application submitted to Havant Borough Council has been supported by a Cold War era map produced by the Soviet military. To save you hunting for the story, we’ll post a more serious update about this tomorrow, but for now, just enjoy the entertainment that this map extract provides.

#переосмыслить

We kid you not, you really couldn’t make this up. If you really need to know more in a hurry, just click the map and follow the clues…

Another loss to Havant’s declining tree canopy

Stop Press! We’re delighted to see that this application has now been withdrawn, pending the definition of an appropriate replanting strategy.

After the loss of the Fairfield School horse chestnut trees, the next major loss will be the 130 ash trees which line Park Road South beside Bosmere School, all now condemned due to Ash Dieback disease. Detail from the current planning application for tree works is shown below the pictures.

Planning application – APP/21/00143 | Fell all Ash trees, approx. 130 trees, within highlighted area identified on attached plan. Within conservation area of St Faiths. 

Highlighted Area. Fell all Ash trees within highlighted area. Approx 130 trees.

Reasons for felling detailed below.

Re planting of suitable species will be undertaken to replace the felled trees.

“The majority of the Ash trees within this group are infected with Ash Dieback. It is anticipated that by summer 2021, a substantial number of these trees will be dead or in an advanced stage of infection, and within 18 months, most will be dead. With clear safety implications to the adjacent Park Road South to the west of the site and school playground to the east, felling these infected trees at the earliest opportunity is considered to be the most prudent course of action to safely manage the risk these trees present to the busy main road and school pupils.”

To comment on the planning application

Clicking on this link will take you to the ‘Comment’ form within the planning application. Comments must be received by March 12.

Please note that outright objections to this felling are unlikely to have any effect. The most constructive comments will be regarding the nature and scale of the replanting so please consider commenting along those lines. As it stands, there is no detail on the application regarding the replanting.

Postscript

The sad remains of just one of those Fairfield School horse chestnuts, felled during February 2021.

Housing Delivery – HBRA keep up the pressure, HBC sings the same old song

Yesterday’s full Council meeting was memorable in the main for Mr. Charles Ashe’s deputation on behalf of the Havant Borough Residents Alliance.

Cllr. Wilson’s proposals for the new Scrutiny Committee chair were worthy of note and there was a particularly interesting 12 minute exchange including questions and discussion on the Aquind Interconnector plans, the Councillors’ laptop rollout proposals and the Cllr. Pike’s observations on the inability of the Council to conduct business from the safety of their own cars.

The meeting was also memorable for the fact that Cllr. Gary Robinson sent his apologies (again), but that’s another story!

Firstly, the floor was given to Mr. Ashe.

Giving a deputation to this council is a frustrating and often dispiriting procedure, with the speaker given a strictly timed slot in which to make the points before being ejected from the proceedings. Deputations are often ‘got out of the way’ early in proceedings and are thus rarely heard at the most appropriate point in the agenda. On a good day, when points made are actually referred to during the later debate, there is no opportunity for participation in that debate.

Mr. Ashe’s deputation eloquently highlighted the Catch-22 which the council faces on social housing. Cllr. Hughes responded in his usual preferred style, tying himself up in a sort of verbal macramé before the Mayor sent Mr. Ashe back out of the classroom, stifling any real debate on the very valid concerns that he raised.

Listen to the whole exchange here. It’s only ten minutes but we think it’s well worth your time.

Mr. Ashe made some clearly thought out points in his HBRA deputation regarding the situation that Havant Borough Council always seem to find itself in, “caught up in a never resolved spiral of trying to achieve unachievable housing deliveries”. He argued that Havant should follow the example set by other Councils by making a positive move to meet their social housing needs by focusing on a dedicated affordable housing programme with an internally manageable delivery schedule.

In response, Cllr. Hughes offered the well worn excuses of ‘the pandemic’ and ‘the Dutch case‘ as the underlying reasons for missing the housing delivery target by a country mile. While Mr. Ashe had already shot those excuses down in his deputation, it was perhaps unsurprising that Cllr. Hughes returned to the same tired script. Perhaps it was simply to advertise that fact that HBC have put up their Warblington Farm nitrate mitigation initiative for one of this year’s CIEEM awards, nominations for which closed this earlier week.

As Cllr. Hughes explained, “The innovative scheme that we’ve implemented here in Havant…. is just that. It’s innovative.” (We do hope that he had some help with the wording of that award nomination from the Cabinet Lead for Communication.)

We agree completely with the HBRA stance. The current track record of delivery of less than 100 affordable housing units per year against a seemingly constant waiting list of around 1600 demonstrates that HBC’s approach to housing delivery is simply broken. As we’ve remarked previously, over the last twelve months, the ongoing pandemic has changed the way we all live, commute and work. Much of that change will be persistent and all previously baselined data relating to housing need, commuting patterns and public transport use will need to be recalibrated. The world has changed.

New appointments

The new Mayor and Deputy Mayor will be Cllr. Rosie Raynes and Cllr. Diana Patrick respectively. We look forward to future Council meetings being run with the high standards of efficiency and control set by Cllr. Prad Bains, the outgoing Mayor. A high bar has been set and we wish him well.

Following the changes to the Constitution agreed in the previous Council Meeting on Jan 27, Cllr. Wilson proposed a new leadership team for the Scrutiny Committee. Watch the nomination and vote here in a last chance to see our youthful outgoing Mayor in action.

Aquind, the new laptop rollout to Councillors and the ‘grounded Parking and Traffic team’

It’s worth listening to the next twelve minute clip. In it, we hear Cllr. Narinder Bains replying to questions on her report as the Cabinet Lead for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Enforcement.

First up, you’ll hear Cllr. Davis asking about the Aquind Interconnector project, specifically the residential impact from the development noise. Aquind isn’t something that affects us here in Havant town but in the western side of the borough and the City of Portsmouth it’s a big deal.

We’ve probably all heard of the electricity supply projects which are now starting to bring clean nuclear power from France into the UK national grid, most recently the IFA2 project which brings a cable ashore at Lee-on-Solent to feed an ‘interconnector’ unit just across the road on the old Daedalus airfield. A rather more barking scheme by the Russian backed Aquind company aims to bring another cable ashore at Eastney, routing it through the streets and green spaces of Portsmouth, Cosham and Waterlooville to an interconnector at Lovedean. Portsmouth City Council and the residents of the City have been up in arms about this for months and it’s good to see that HBC are also keeping the pressure on. As the Leader of Portsmouth City Council has remarked, the route is simply ‘nuts’.

The Mayor then moves on to questions from Cllr. Francis, the first of which related to the proposed rollout of new laptops to Councillors, before Cllr. Hughes raises the topic of Aquind again, this time from his own Purbrook electorate’s viewpoint.

The rather sobering fact in Cllr. Hughes’ comment is that the cable laying machinery will be digging up the roads at a rate of 100 metres per week. That’s slow progress considering the machinery is running at 85db, and as Cllr. Hughes points out, Purbrook Village is a major choke point on the old A3.

It was at this point that Cllr. Hughes appears to go off piste again, referring to the A3023 which, when last we looked, connects Hayling with Havant.

If Aquind have any designs on digging that one up, then we’ll all be in trouble!

#rethinkhavant

Declaring our interest in Station Views

In these difficult circumstances, we expect all our Councillors to pull together and put the interests of the town, the HBC Officers and their electorate ahead of their own personal interests, especially when it comes to squeezing residential homes onto clearly unsuitable sites. We’ve been doing a little digging in the digital archives, inspired by an ongoing planning application raised by one of Havant’s Councillors.

Tucked away in what, in the old days, would have been a trackside ‘no mans land’ beside Bedhampton railway gates, squeezed in between an electricity sub-station and the end of a terrace of houses, was a triangular plot of land which twenty years ago housed nothing but the three large billboards visible in the image above.

The agency managing those billboards tried for retrospective planning permission and their appeal against refusal was thrown out by the inspector. The Officer’s report of his site visit gives a little more history on the site.

Roll forward fifteen years and an odd little detached, two story building appeared alongside the end of the terrace.

It looked a bit like a house, but actually appeared to be a commercial property. If we could find the planning application for it, we might be able to say more. While the casual observer driving by the site might have thought ‘that’s an odd little house’ nobody, apart from the council, appeared to take much notice. Until May 2015 that is, when a new plan was submitted for a detached ‘office block’, imaginatively squeezed into the corner towards the electricity sub station beside the railway gates.

Many of us driving by when that was being constructed thought it also rather odd, appearing like a residential block in a most unlikely position. It had all the hallmarks of a being a small block of flats, almost as if the owner already had designs on trying for a ‘change of use’ application.

In short order, more plans were submitted. This one we found particularly entertaining with its first floor flying extension, accessed via a spiral staircase from the car park beneath:

Note this drawing includes the infill between the standalone ‘office’ building and the earlier little detatched building at number 2A. While the flying extension towards the gates was never built, the pitched roof infill between the original building on the left and the ‘office block’ appeared in the planning history in August 2015. This resulted in a note from the Environmental Health consultee stressing that the proposed combined building should not be reassigned for residential use.

The two existing buildings were merged as ‘Aura House’, which sounds a lot better than 2A New Road.

The planning history for Aura House is a little tortuous to follow with the owner trying various options for increasing the ‘office’ floorspace. There are hints of a level of exasperation in the tone of some of the officers and consultee reports at the various stages, but one of documents particularly caught our eye. It is this comment by Environmental Health in 2017, asking that the following condition be imposed on any consent that may be granted:

Condition: “That it be reiterated that this new office extension, together with the existing office accommodation shall not be converted to living accommodation without the prior written approval of the Local Planning Authority.

Reason: This site is not suitable for residential use, due to the the unacceptably poor living environment for the occupants.”

We agree.

So why bring this saga up now?

Well the rather persistent owner of the site has recently submitted an application for – yes, you guessed it – change of use to residential. Now it should be pointed out that the owner of the site, hence the instigator of so much unnecessary load on long suffering Havant Borough Council officers, is none other than one of the Bedhampton Councillors, Cllr. Gary Robinson.

Given the number of businesses reported as operating from his property, it seems that his site is already functioning well as a commercial property. It’s actually quite interesting to note that one of those businesses is ‘Mi Home Living‘, the newly formed property company managing the letting of that other Station View, the one on the former Wessex site in New Lane. (Strangely, we note that particular company is actually registered for ‘Retail of furniture, lighting, and similar (not musical instruments or scores) in specialised store’, not that we’re suggesting that there’s anything remotely Fishy about that).

With regard to the Change of Use application, HCS has gone on record to register support for the Planning Officer’s recommendation that the Development Management Committee refuse the application for a change of use for Aura House to ‘residential’. We believe that it’s the only proper course of action.

Stop Press – Feb 24. At the time of writing, we hear that Cllr. Robinson has, in fact, just withdrawn his application for Change of Use, ahead of the Development Management Committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Feb 25) which would almost certainly have confirmed its refusal.

His desire to continue to waste people’s time is duly noted.

#rethinkhavant