The HCS AGM and Public Meeting will be held at the Havant URC Meeting Room on Elm Lane, see map below, on Wednesday November 6th. We’ll be there from 7:00pm and the meeting will start at 7:30pm sharp. We’ll try and keep the AGM matters as brief as possible to allow more time to talk to you about the many items of current interest around the town. A detailed agenda will be posted on the website before the meeting and the highlights can be seen immediately below this map.
We already have a full agenda, kicking off with an update from the Havant Borough Council Regeneration leadership, Councillor Tim Pike and Andrew Biltcliffe. In addition to showing the long awaited Havant Regeneration programme video, a futuristic vision for the town, Tim and Andrew will give us a progress update on the regeneration plan. Applications closed last Friday for the appointment of the development partner for the first phase, the Civic Plaza car park housing site, so we expect also to be able to share some detail on that. Tim has indicated that he’d welcome discussion so we’ll be making the session as interactive as possible.
We will also bring you an update on various activities which HCS has been undertaking under the general heading of ‘Havant’s Green Spaces’. These activities bring HCS together with other local environmental groups including the Havant Borough Tree Wardens who be on hand to give us a brief update on their activity.
Lastly, we’ll be including a round-up of planning and development activity affecting the town centre, including an update on Portsmouth Water’s plans for their site, the first of which has now been aired.
Everyone is welcome and new members will be welcomed.
To give us an idea of numbers, please could you take the time to enter your name and email address below, we’d be grateful. Simply press the green ‘Submit’ button when you’ve finished.
Do you remember this image from a year ago? Well until now, it’s been the only still image made public from the video made over a year ago to sell Havant as an opportunity for outside investors.
The video launch was originally planned for a public meeting at the Meridian Centre back in the summer but the residents who went along were disappointed to find that it was inexplicably dropped at the last minute.
We’re pleased to be able to announce that the first public showing of the video will finally be at at our AGM and Public Meeting!
Cllr. Tim Pike and HBC Head of Regeneration, Andy Biltcliffe, will be coming along to our AGM next Wednesday, November 6th, and will be showing the full video to the meeting, giving us an update on the Regeneration Programme and inviting discussion.
Last night, we attended the Development Consultation Forum for the new Portsmouth Water HQ proposed development.
The HBC team had not invited the Bosmere Medical Practice or their Patient Participation Group (PPG) to the forum and as a result, yesterday’s meeting may have been the first time that the architect and Chancerygate, PW’s shed builder of choice, had been able to grasp the scale of the medical practice they are proposing to trash. With over 19,000 affected local residents on their patient list and as one of the largest GP practices in Hampshire, it seems all the more astonishing that this directly impacted GP practice had not been previously been identified as a ‘key stakeholder’ in the proposal.
The chart above demonstrates how the Bosmere Medical Practice patient list has grown steadily year on year, from 14,700 in 2007, to the current total of 19,370. Given the catchment area of the practice and the growth in population planned in the Havant Borough Local Plan 2036, we can safely predict that this rate of growth will continue.
In what sadly is often the case with Havant, the development proposals for the Portsmouth Water site are being handled piecemeal, with no clear thought to the overall transport infrastructure within which new developments should be defined. The first proposal to come forward, the subject of last night’s Development Consultation Forum, has been drawn up in isolation from the one which will eventually be submitted for the delivery of 135 houses on the ‘old’ Portsmouth Water HQ building in West Street.
Last night was the first time that it had become clear to us that Portsmouth Water intend to keep their site yard in Brockhampton Road. The next (?) phase of the site proposal will be for the 135 houses which will be crammed onto the land occupied by the current HQ building and the land behind it.
Because the architect of last night’s proposal has not been given an overall context in which to plan her design, she has accepted that the Bosmere Medical Centre site access on Solent Road is the only one available to her. In reality, as our questioning brought out, the logical site access for the new development is from Brockhampton Road, through one of the company’s existing ‘yard’ entrances.
Portsmouth Water stated last night that one of the prime reasons for keeping the new HQ building in Havant will be its proximity to this existing yard, an option which their alternative office site (Lakeside, North Harbour) couldn’t offer. When called on by the chairman to respond to points made in our deputation, they expressed reservations as to whether they’d be able to get any access from Brockhampton Road ‘without causing distress to the residents of Manor Court’.
We have good news for them! They already have four possible entrances to choose from:
Forcing new site traffic through what is effectively the dedicated Solent Road access to the Bosmere Medical Centre will cause further traffic chaos on Solent Road and will severely impact the operation of one of Hampshire’s largest GP practices. With over 19,000 residents on their books, it is perhaps unwise of Portsmouth Water not to bring the Practice and their Patient Participation Group with them on this journey.
Havant Civic Society fully support the concept of the Regeneration of Havant, in fact, we’re looking forward to the update which will be given by the Regeneration team at our next public meeting on November 6th. However, we do need to see coherent plans for redevelopment of existing sites within the town. The piecemeal redevelopment of the Portsmouth Water site and the lack of a coherent road infrastructure is not what we think of as ‘Regeneration’.
The first move by Portsmouth Water to redevelop their Havant premises has now broken cover with the publication by developers WYG of a briefing note concerning the first stage of an overall development programme.
The image below shows West Street at the top, including the entrance to the existing headquarters building, Brockhampton Road to the left and Solent Road running along the bottom. The Bosmere Medical Centre is clearly visible centred along the bottom of the image.
The report in today’s Portsmouth News highlights the broader picture, including as yet unpublished proposals for 135 new houses accessed from West Street. These would cover the land at the top of this image.
The first stage outlined this week proposes the development of a new headquarters office building to the south of the existing West Street site and immediately to the north of the Bosmere Medical Centre in Solent Road. Also included are three commercial units, with access to the new employment sites sharing the Solent Road entrance currently dedicated to the Bosmere Medical Centre.
Given the volume of traffic already using Solent Road at peak times, adding Portsmouth Water’s office traffic to the mix will surely make things worse. Peak traffic times also align with peak surgery access times and with the volume of patient traffic, both private car and taxi and with regular deliveries to Boots, the on-site chemist, wider use of the existing surgery access road need questioning.
The proposal will be the subject of a Development Consultation Forum on October 22nd at 6:00pm. Since this is likely to be of wider interest to our members, many of whom will be patients registered with the Bosmere Practice, you may wish to come along to that meeting.
As you may have seen in today’s Portsmouth News, Southampton based Drew Smith Homes have been awarded funding by Homes England to construct 95 homes on the former Colt site in New Lane, half of which will be offered as ‘affordable homes’.
It’s difficult to make much sense of the illustration included on the press release, but rest assured we’ll bring you the detail of the planning application when the developer submits it.
We originally brought you news of the outline planning application back in May, and we expect the detailed plans to follow much the same approach. To recap, this is the overall Masterplan for the site:
Back in May Councillor Tim Pike approached HCS to consider taking on the voluntary management of some additional green spaces in the town centre. The Market Parade planting area (and two planting areas in front of the station) and the Boys Brigade Gardens had become neglected after a previous voluntary arrangement had come to an end. There had even been a formal complaint about the Market Parade flowerbed which is one of the first sights that visitors see when they get off the train. If HCS didn’t take action the beds would be assigned to Norse for minimal maintenance – they could have been subjected to a dispiriting begonia attack, or nothing at all for many months.
We got straight on to our small sister organisation, Grove Conservation Group, who do such a good job of managing the fauna and flora habitats on the Hayling Billy Line at the junction of Grove Road and Lower Grove Road. Walkers on the Hayling Billy will have noticed the little meadow there that has attracted so many insects and butterfly species this summer. After discussions on the best way forward a small group of 5 volunteers planted up the Market Parade flowerbeds with a temporary planting of colourful annuals for the summer season. It looks better already. We have asked Norse to undertake watering, and we plan to develop the planting with a perennial planting programme in November. That will include plants that are attractive to both visitors and pollinators.
The Boys Brigade Gardens on the corner
of West St and Park Rd South is a lovely oasis full of, and surrounded by,
mature trees including some fruit trees. The gardens attract birds and insects
because the stream runs through them. We haven’t started working on the Boys
Brigade Gardens yet but suggested changes include some unmown areas for insect
habitat, bird nesting boxes, and managing a balance between food flora that
encourages birds and insects (that could include small areas of nettles for
butterflies, and thistles for pollinators) and the shrubs and trees that make
the gardens a cool town-centre haven.
To achieve all this we need extra hands
on volunteers who can spare a couple of hours now and then to work with the
existing volunteer group in upgrading these two sites. Sign up at the forthcoming public meeting.
A Green Spaces map.
Havant is full of small areas that have been noticed by local residents and are being improved for the benefit of humans and wildlife – we are soon going to establish a map that identifies areas that are already being sympathetically managed and others that need attention. Let us know if you are already taking care of some small area and we will add you to the map.
44-54 West St.
One of the town centre sites that has been an eyesore for a long time is the area of West St precinct opposite the Nat West bank that is covered with hoardings (nos 44-54). These hoardings have now been in place for over 12 years! Having failed to sell at auction the site has now sunk back down the Borough Council’s list of priorities. HCS thinks that, because of continuing neglect by the owners, the area should be converted from an eyesore into a small community garden with a footpath through to the bus station (an alternative to the gloomy brick corridor that is Trafalgar Walk). Would local residents be in favour of this idea? We would need public support to get HBC to make it happen, and some volunteers to help do the work, but it could be so much nicer than what’s there now! Havant town residents deserve a nicer environment – it’s long overdue.
Havant Tree Trail.
Finally a quick word about the proposed Havant Tree Trail. We were impressed with the glossy Emsworth Tree Trail Book produced by the Havant Borough Tree Wardens and would eventually like to replicate their efforts in the town. This goal is moving slowly forward with meetings between Bob Comlay, current HCS Chair, the Havant Borough Tree Wardens local Tree Wardens and representatives of the Friends of Havant Cemeteries.
The first step is to conduct a survey of the trees within the wider town area. And HBTW are close to completing the first survey of the fine collectionm of trees in the New Lane / Eastern Road cemeteries. The Havant Tree Warden, Rob Foord, is now leading the survey effort in Havant Park, with the active involvement of HCS members. Our plan is to have a Tree Trail designed and developed for Havant Park, both as a printed leaflet and as an interactive digital version. This is very much a work in progress at an early stage, but at some point you can expect to see some of the more significant trees in the park labelled with QR codes to scan on your mobile device.
At some stage there’ll be a survey of town centre trees and we’ll want people to alert us to favourite or unusual trees that they know of. Sign up for the survey at the forthcoming public meeting. The Tree Trail project has its own link on the HCS website so you can keep up to date with progress.
We have heard that phrase enough over the past few years, but no I am not going to discuss the rights or wrongs of Brexit.
I have written before about the importance of Place Management and how a sense of place is a vital requirement to establish good community cohesion. A town centre is central to a community with regards to belonging, being a locality where you may be able to shop or eat, visit a library or a museum and arts centre, get your banking done or sort your teeth out. Maybe you require some other business service, then afterwards you decide to take in the fresh air in a town park or sit in peace in a beautiful church. Plus if there is public transport travel hubs conveniently located offering bus and train services, so much the better.
Well guess what, Havant Town Centre has all these amenities and more. Surely then, our town centre should be lauded as a good example of this sense of place for which we should have much pride, and a town centre that can have a successful future, can be further developed and thrive in the years ahead, especially as thousands more planned houses in the years ahead will create lots more residents to use and visit our historic market town.
Why is it then, that we don’t always feel pride in our town centre? I think it’s the feeling that it is not always sufficiently loved and cared for to the level we would expect. Weeds growing between precinct buildings and the pavement, graffiti not removed, bollards not replaced for months and then when replaced, using non-matching ones secured with weak, inferior materials that are not the original block paving. It may seem like they’re all minor issues, but when put together, creates this feeling that nobody cares.
What can we do about it? Well if enough people report when the public realm is not being repaired or remedied, the Council or Norse, their operational organisation, will do their best, but will also often cite lack of staff and finances to carry out the work up to the original standard and in a suitable period of time, let alone to a superior standard.The majority of the people in the town of Havant want to be in a place that gives them that feeling of wanting to live in a thriving town that you are happy to call your home. However, organisations are needed to monitor and lobby the Council to encourage and challenge them to carry out the all important TLC that the town centre deserves.
After all, we have already shown that it has got a lot going for it with its wealth of amenities that offers a lot more than many town centres, it should be strategically managed, promoted and developed to create a flourishing commercial and cultural centre.
Havant Civic Society is currently the only Havant Town organisation that does monitor and lobby on your behalf. If lots more local people joined our organisation, through strength in numbers, we should make a difference in challenging the Council to make our town centre the pleasant and successful place we all want it to be.
For example, we have asked the Council to suggest to the owners of 44-54 West Street*, that they give something back to our community after approximately 12 years of looking at a partly derelict building site fronted by a temporary, torn and fading vinyl display hoardings. We have suggested that until the owners develop the site, and as an act of goodwill, they could clear the site and let the Council create a temporary Community Garden that links the precinct to the bus station, giving us something positive to use and enjoy for all the community.
* Stop Press!! (Sept 16th) We are led to believe that this site has recently changed hands and that “the new owner is keen to move the re-development of the site forward“.
We’ll be watching this development closely…
Where we see opportunities to improve the central hub of our living environment, the town centre, we should all strive to make it our place, our town centre and somewhere for which we can feel pride.
So in the current times in which we live, perhaps taking back control does just mean feeling involved and having some influence on what is happening around you in your environment and community.
By getting involved in the work of Havant Civic Society, it gives you the opportunity to have your say on what you would like your town and community to be like now and in the future. So are you going to take back control? If you’re reading this and have not yet joined us, please consider doing so. It’s easy, it’s worthwhile and it’s probably cheaper than that expensive cup of coffee!
At dusk on the evening of August 20th local bat expert and the Hampshire County Bat Recorder, Nik Knight, visited the Gazebo Garden to lead a small group on a bat detection session. Nik had previously visited the garden to advise us on the best location for our bat box, which we hope will be used by passing bats as a safe resting place.
Spaces on the walk were limited so the invitation only went out to the ‘inner circle’ of HCS members, those who responded to our earlier request for volunteers to provide a bit of essential extra help to the committee when needed. (There will be more on this subject in a separate post.)
Nik gave a short talk
on our local bat population which highlighted the fact that Havant Borough is a
hotspot for bats – including some rare species – so we need to care for them
and provide bat boxes wherever possible.
Nik then distributed the personal bat detectors that he had brought with
him so we could all detect that many bats were active in addition to the ones
we could see flitting about. In the Gazebo Garden we identified common
pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle (who knew!) and then we moved on to the Hayling
Billy footpath where among the tall trees we detected a lot more common
pipistrelle activity. It was a great snapshot of what was going on in the bat
community that night, and other species have been identified on other visits. One of the group was so inspired that he’s
bought his own bat detector!
Nik is keen to raise awareness of our very valuable local bat population. He runs the Hampshire Bat Group http://www.hampshirebatgroup.org.uk/ which has a membership page, a full range of information about how we can all get involved and help our diverse bat species, and links to the informative Bat Droppings newsletters.
Demolition at the Wessex site had been proceeding at a steady rate until the machinery struck thin air, exposing a large chamber about three metres deep on the site of the large workshop building on the New Lane side.
The surprise find has been tentatively identified as the site of a coke oven, a Victorian red brick arch briefly visible in the void before the machinery was put back to work. The brickwork can still be seen in the image below, behind the iron joist structure which has since been removed.
As a salvage worker on site remarked, this was “completely unexpected” before adding “you never know what you’re going to find until you break up the ground”.
To the south of the void, five large cast iron pipes are now exposed, presumably relics from the former town gas works.
A lost opportunity for a bit of industrial archaeology perhaps? For those interested, the developer’s original ‘Heritage Statement’ for the planning application can be found here.
June 5th, the hole just gets keeps getting bigger.