We’re in Waitrose today!

The HCS Committee members and the Gazebo Garden volunteers will be manning the Gazebo Garden stand in Waitrose from around 10:15 onward today, as part of the Waitrose Community Week.

Do stop by for a quick chat – we’d be delighted to see you!

Spot the difference! The Domino’s challenge.

Here’s a little something for the weekend. Are you ready to take the Domino’s challenge? Well if you are, here’s a little ‘Spot the difference’ test:

Do you remember the planning application for the Domino’s Pizza Takeaway at 39 West Street? Well, to be more correct, both planning applications for 39 West Street? Turned down unanimously last October, then curiously passed when it was resubmitted in January?

Well the application, and subsequent approval, was for a ‘Hot Food Takeaway – Use class A5. Why is this significant? Well A5 covers ‘hot food take-away’ only. To be used as an eat in establishment, which Domino’s at 39 West Street is morphing into, they’d need to have another change of use to A3.

In support of their application, they submitted a plan for… well… a takeaway. Just take a look at the detail on that plan, below, and note the position of the ‘oven’ and the ‘preparation area’.

Then next time you’re walking past, take a look at what they actually built!

We’re delighted to see that the enforcement team are on the case and we’ll keep you posted on their progress.

WDRA AGM – Havant Regeneration

Our thanks to the Warblington and Denvilles Residents’ Association for inviting us to their AGM last Friday. Given the ongoing vacancies for WDRA Chair and Vice Chair, the meeting was chaired by the WDRA Newsletter Editor, Ian Crabtree. Hats off to Ian for a very well run meeting!

The meeting at the Stride Centre in Denvilles was very well attended and had, as guest speakers, Cllr. Tim Pike and Andy Biltcliffe, Regeneration Lead for Havant Borough Council. Tim Pike, recently re-elected as Councillor for St Faiths, continues in his role as Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Lead for Finance and Regeneration. Andy Biltcliffe also continues in his role as ‘Head of Regeneration (South)’.

It’s good to see continuity of accountability in these roles given the importance to us all of the Havant Regeneration Programme.

Andy took the meeting through his latest sales pitch for the Regeneration Programme. When the strategy was originally published, the scope of Phase 1 was defined as “Quick wins, sites entirely in HBC ownership & opportunities for income generation” . The new pitch presented by Andy at Friday’s meeting now includes ‘Havant Town Centre’ and ‘Brockhampton West’ in the scope of Phase 1 in addition to the Civic Plaza site. Phase 2, originally “More complex longer term projects “, now shows ‘Waterlooville Town Centre’ and ‘Leigh Park Town Centre’.

We’re keen to understand what the Phase 1 plan includes relating specifically to what residents perceive as Havant Town Centre since, let’s face it, development on the Civic Plaza site isn’t high on our list.

The original ‘Opportunity Havant’ document contained the following important commitment which was reiterated by Andy Biltcliffe in his introduction on Friday:

“Where necessary the Council will utilise its Compulsory Purchase Powers to bring forward schemes and will make the required budget available. This will give greater certainty over delivery of the Regeneration Programme.”

Opportunity Havant – November 2018

We remain cautiously optimistic that the HBC team will now put serious focus on the use of compulsory purchase to address the long term issue of the derelict sites in West Street and East Street.

However, when questioned on just this point, Andy replied that since the East Street development sites were for sale at a price well in excess of £1M, they were out of scope. He seemed surprised when we pointed out that numbers 5 and 7 are currently up for auction at Nesbitts on May 30th with a guide price of £250,000. We’ll be watching that auction carefully since, as we reported earlier this month, 44-54 West Street recently failed to sell at auction and remains on sale at £810,000.

Andy made the comment that since compulsory purchase requires compensation to the landowner of ‘market price’ plus ten percent, these properties remain out of reach of the Regeneration Programme. Our counter argument is that if, as Tim Pike commented, the prices being asked by these developers are unrealistically high, then the Council should step in and work with independent surveyors to determine what the real market prices should be.

Further questions from the floor highlighted that recent attempts to engage with the HBC Conservation Officer on the sad state of other Georgian buildings in East Street have so far fallen on deaf ears. This despite the fact that the very same Conservation Officer acts for Petersfield, where residents appear to get more attention.

This sadly doesn’t surprise us; interaction with Havant Borough Council via telephone or email is hit or miss at best, with emails rarely acknowledged, regularly ignored or simply badly handled by Capita’s Coventry based call centre. Perhaps rather too much emphasis is being placed on delivering flashy marketing communications setting unrealistic expectations. The ‘Homes England’ announcement is a case in point. The reality of the Phase 1 Civic Plaza development plan now seems considerably more limited in scope. Do not expect to see the JobCentre, the Magistrates’ Court or the Police Station redeveloped; Phase 1 development at that site now looks more like just a few blocks of flats on the Civic Offices car park instead.

The next whizzy graphic extravaganza will be on Thursday 13th June at the Meridian Centre when HBC will reveal an exciting new CGI video presentation from their PR partner.

We’ll be there, sack of salt in hand, just in case…

Denmead Belles WI visit to the Gazebo

Together with Anna Glanville-Hearson, our hard working secretary and Gazebo Garden Coordinator, the local Havant nature-friendly garden specialist, Martin Hampton, recently led an evening guided walk for 14 members of the Denmead Belles WI group.

We went to the Meadow and 3-Pond Copse at Lower Grove Road and then on to the Gazebo Garden where the visitors were all very interested in both the Gazebo and the garden, and especially in the new wildlife-friendly elements that we have recently introduced.

A very big ‘Thank You’ to all our Waitrose shoppers!

A big vote of thanks to Waitrose and Partners for their generosity to the local community!

To all of you HCS members, friends, relatives or just casual shoppers with an interest in our ‘Secret Garden’, you’ve managed to raise a terrific total of £480 on the Community Matters – ‘green token’ – Scheme at Waitrose in Havant.

This gives a welcome boost to the funds available for the maintenance of the Gazebo structure and the planting.

With thanks to you all
from the HCS Committee and the Gazebo Garden maintenance volunteers.

The Gazebo Garden bat box has been commissioned!

The new Gazebo Garden bat box has now been put up by our volunteers and over time we’re hoping it will attract some occupants. Take your little ones into the garden on the way home from school and see if they can find it!

Havant is said to be a popular spot for bats and we’re hoping to organise a ‘bat walk’ one evening with a local expert on the subject.

The box was made for us by the Havant Men’s Shed. If you’re interested in a box for your own house, we’re sure that they’d be delighted to help.

The Gazebo Garden is a glorious riot of April colours

Do please stop by the Gazebo Garden and see the wonderful Spring colours. Then spare a thought for those lovely volunteers and next time you’re in Waitrose, drop your green tokens in the Gazebo Garden slot!

Lining up more Dominos?

We always love a good Gantt chart and the one published this week for the Civic Plaza Car Park Redevelopment Project gives us plenty of food for thought. Safely viewed on an A4 page or from the back of the room when projected at the Cabinet meeting, it’s reassuringly unreadable and slopes down in the right sort of direction.

By any stretch of the imagination, the Civic Plaza Car Park Redevelopment Project is a ‘complex project’, particularly if the external programme dependencies and overall programme governance approach are factored in.

So we though it was worth a closer look, starting with the green bits – the work done to date:

Task 3 has already been ‘re-planned’ to the right and we note that the ‘Homes England’ Funding Agreement, which on plan completed on January 19th, wasn’t publicised until two months later. (Perhaps HBC decided to sit on it for a couple of months.)

The much trumpeted ‘Homes England‘ grant of £3.5 million is actually being used to pay the bill for WBD (Womble, Bond, Dickinson), ‘Homes England’s regular partner in such matters, and while the actual projected costs of the project are not publicly visible, it’s probably safe to say that the £3.5 million represents a very small part of that.


Now we’re sure that WBD will have offered sound advice to the Cabinet Meeting at task 9 but we would be fascinated to know what the contingency plans for Brexit are. For the past few decades, public service procurement has been required to follow the well worn European Journal route indicated in tasks 15, 16 and 17, however, in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit that won’t work and an, as yet undefined, alternative must be used. ( Finger’s crossed, eh?)

Assuming that the EU Journal process can be followed, April is going to be a busy month, reviewing and scoring the questionnaires from prospective development partners. During May, June and July, HBC and WBD will be in discussions with the shortlisted candidates, reviewing initial schemes and developing the detail behind the formal ITT (Invitation to Tender). August holidays will be put on hold for some while the ITT is published to suppliers, responded to and returned to HBC, with selection of the preferred bidder taking place in September. October promises to be another busy month with the negotiation and acceptance of a Developer Agreement (DA) that binds the Development Partner to progress the development of the site in line with the Council’s aspirations around design quality, numbers and tenure and Homes England’s requirements within the agreed timeframe”. With that in place and HBC formal approval of the DA, appointment of the Development Partner will follow.

All by the end of October!

There then follows seven months of Design and Planning activity, four months to prepare the planning application for approval this time next year. I don’t doubt that we’ll all be invited to comment in the usual time honoured manner, but by this time the train will either be moving at express speed or will be well and truly off the rails. The overlapping of Detailed Design work with the Planning Approval process suggests that there will be little time for taking on board public comment.

Now most Gantt charts at this ‘sales’ level have a ‘here a miracle occurs’ moment and this one is no exception as we move into the ‘Construction’ phase. The dates on the left – the task start and end dates – now start to diverge from the right hand side of the chart, which suggests that this is a Powerpoint exercise rather than the output of a planning tool.

After four months of Contractor Procurement and preliminary work activity, a 22 month construction phase of the project kicks off. While the factory build of the prefab apartments takes place at an, as yet unspecified site, six months will be spent building new multi-storey car parking to compensate for that being lost through the development. Between October 2020 and March 2021, (Or should that be between March 2021 and July 2021?) it looks as if the Police Station, Magistrate’s Court and the Job Centre will be demolished, making way for the delivery of the prefabs.

Task 37, ‘MMC (Modern Method of Construction) Tool-up‘ is shown as running between ‘May 2020 and June 2020’, i.e. ending before the completion of contractor procurement. However, the graphic shows that activity running a more realistic four months later, through September and October 2020.

By September 2021, with most of the site assembly complete and only the completion of the ‘non MMC’ elements remaining, six months of Marketing and Letting activity begins. Or so it says in the task column. The Gantt chart itself shows this running nine months later, starting in June 2022, all rather confusing.

Project Completion either takes place between Jan and March 2022 or between June and August 2022, depending on which side of the chart you read. To the casual observer, the project completes by March 2023; to a more critical eye, it completes in August 2023.

So there you have it. Whatever could go wrong?

Civic Plaza ‘Car Park Redevelopment’ project

‘Car Park redevelopment’ may be something of a misnomer and it’s worth reading the document that was presented at the Havant Borough Council Cabinet meeting on March 20th.

In this document, you will find further explanation of the project proposal and the timescales. The timescales appear to be driven by conditions on the component of funding from Homes England. While that £3.5 million is being touted as ‘significant’, it is a drop in the ocean in the context of the full project costs. Take the link to this document and you will find an explanation of the ownership of the various sites shown in the chart below.

The fact that HBC own or can easily acquire these sites is the reason why they’re intent on this being Phase 1 of their Regeneration Programme.

The Regeneration Programme shows its true colours

And you’ll be delighted to see that the most well loved of town centre landmarks, the public footbridge linking the Civic Plaza to the historic town centre, is safely preserved in today’s publicity image from Homes England.

We already knew that Havant Borough Council were planning to invest their effort, our money and a modicum of grant funding from Homes England on new housing on the Civic Plaza site. Today they gave us a glimpse into how that might look in reality.

The image above might almost have been taken from the top of the last great white elephant, remember the thirteen storey tower block at the north east corner of Market Parade? If it’s hard to get your bearings, the five gabled unit in the foreground is built on the site of the Job Centre Plus in Elmleigh Road. To the left of that block, the magistrate’s court and the police station have given way to further blocks, masking – at least at ground level – the rather more utilitarian blocks built behind them on the existing Civic Centre car park.

It’s almost reassuring to see that Havant’s welcoming landmark, the decrepit railway footbridge is (just about) still standing proudly at the bottom right hand corner of the picture.

We look forward to the submission of the planning application safe in the knowledge that the planning process will most likely take its usual course, going through the motions, following ‘the process’, encouraging public comment then taking its own counsel.