Development Consultation Forum on Housing to the north of Bartons Road

Today’s Development Consultation Forum at the Havant Plaza gave us the first sight of an outline proposal for around 90 new homes on land immediately west of The Oaks crematorium. The presentation, by planning consultants engaged by the land owner, White Farming Ltd., aka Southleigh Estate, highlighted the fact that a considerable amount of work has already been done despite the fact that the site concerned does not appear at all on the currently adopted Local Plan.  Residents of the Barton’s Rise estate present at the meeting commented that they had been assured when they bought their homes that there were no plans for development on their eastern boundary ‘because of proximity to the crematorium.’  Their anger and frustration is justifiable.

From a parochial Havant Civic Society viewpoint, it could be argued that the Barton’s Road site is ‘not in our patch’.  However, with rapid expansion of housing development now encircling the town centre, it’s important that we consider the potential impacts on and benefits for the town centre as a natural destination for these new communities.

Firstly, some geographical context to this evening’s Development Consultation Forum. In the picture below, ‘The Oaks’ crematorium is at the top left and the Wyevale Garden Centre is at the bottom of the frame, slightly left of centre. Bartons road runs from the west at the bottom, to the north at the top. Eastleigh Road can be seen running southwards – left to right – from the Spire hospital to its junction with Southleigh Road, centre right.

This same aerial view will be radically different in ten years time, with most of the arable farmland replaced by housing.  Whether or not the schools, GP surgeries and transport infrastructure will be in place to service those houses were questions high on the agenda of the members of public represented at tonight’s Development Consulting Forum.

At the top of the picture, Southleigh House is already earmarked for around 90 homes.  On the large field occupying the right hand side of this image, the site road is already under construction from Barton’s Road leading to another 175 houses planned by Bellway.  Towards the bottom on the left hand side, the Linden Homes ‘Barton’s Rise’ estate can be seen opposite the entrance to the garden centre.  Each of these housing developments are on land allocated in the currently adopted Local Plan and, therefore, come as no surprise. The issue we are highlighting is that the proposal now under discussion relates to land not previously allocated for housing.

The development forum was considering the preliminary stages of an application by the Southleigh Estate to develop the land between the Crematorium access road and the recently developed Linden Homes ‘Barton’s Rise’ estate.  Using the landowner’s consultant’s charts, here is the site in its more normal ‘north up’ orientation with Barton’s Road running from left to right in the middle with the Spire Hospital at the top right. The crematorium is off the top of this picture, but the site access road can be clearly seen.

Now, let’s put the proposed development into this context:

The proposal is for around 85-90 houses, with the usual mix of ‘affordable’, running from a site access road taken straight from a new T- junction from the crematorium access road.

It’s interesting to note that the bottom half of this picture falls within the remit of Havant Borough Council while the top half, left pleasantly green, is the responsibility of East Hants District Council.

The efforts by the landowner’s consultants to assure residents that the land to the north of the new houses, including the community orchard visible at top right of the diagram alongside the crematorium, would remain as a well run and managed ‘open space’ probably fell on deaf ears.  It doesn’t take much of a gambler to lay odds that EHDC would jump at the chance of developing the top half of this site should HBC set the precedent.  After all, that would be another fifty houses off their own targets while Havant schools and GPs would be left shouldering the responsibility for the residents.

Graham Beeston from Warblington and Denvilles Residents’ Association and Frank Ball from Rowlands Castle Parish Council both made presentations expressing similar concerns. Both groups share our frustration that these development proposals seem not to be underpinned by a robust and comprehensive infrastructure plan designed to ensure that the necessary schools, medical, services and transport infrastructure are in place before these new residents pick up their front door keys.

We appreciated Councillor Leah Turner opening the meeting to the floor in a welcome change from normal protocol. However, the resulting discussion was illuminating, highlighting the anger and frustration of the Barton’s Rise residents outlined above.  A resident from the south side of Barton’s road asked whether the Council fully appreciated that the area had no access to shops and services and poor transport links, with the nearest bus stop 800 metres away.  The consultants responded that they’d discussed that issue, but First Bus saw insufficient demand from this site to justify re-routing their buses.  If ever there was a need for an overarching and comprehensive infrastructure plan, this was it.

There was further worrying news from the Barton’s Rise residents who reported that bat boxes on the proposed development site had mysteriously been removed within the last couple of weeks; curious timing given tonight’s Development Consultation Forum.  The landowner’s consultants were quick to say they had no knowledge of such action and were equally quick to confirm that such an act in an area known to host Bechstein’s bats would be a criminal act that would not be in the interest of the landowner.

We will keep a close eye on any plans for this site as and when they are lodged with HBC.

39 West Street – Shouldn’t HBC practice what they preach?

One of today’s responses to the HSBC / Pizza takeaway planning application had me running for the search engines to find the source, and here it is.   Dating from as recently as November 2017, the HBC ‘Healthy Borough Assessment’ is well worth a read.

The whole of Section 3 – Planning and Health – is germane to the debate about fast food in the town centre while the paragraph (3.19) quoted by this clearly well-informed resident sums up the Council’s thinking on fast food in the town centre.

“Havant scores significantly worse than the England average against the excess weight in adults indicator (2012-2014). Figure 1 below also shows parts of Havant to have a high number of fast food outlets compared to other areas. Together, these statistics point to a justification for a policy restricting fast food outlets in Havant Town Centre.”

To provide a balanced view, I’ve completed the quote here with the remainder of the paragraph:

“However it is also true that hot food takeaways (A5) are not the only source of unhealthy food in town centres. A number of shops (A1) can also provide unhealthy take-away food choices as well. Furthermore, such a restriction would do nothing to address the health of the existing take-away choices on offer. Such an approach would benefit from an update to the Use Classes Order in order to specifically identify uses which could provide unhealthy choices.

PublicHealth

It’s encouraging to see that the Council is clearly considering the health and welfare of its residents as they plan for our future.  It’s no wonder then, that the Local Plan 2036 clearly proposes moving fast food out of the town centre in favour of “other uses which promote activity and have not traditionally been part of a town centre offer such as gyms or healthcare…”

With this in mind, the current application for 39 West Street should surely be turned down flat? The detail of opening hours becomes simply an irrelevant diversion.

(In fairness, this is a personal view and not necessarily the view of the Havant Civic Society)

 

Havant Park – in the News

Following on from our earlier piece, the parlous state of the children’s recreation area in Havant Park is covered in the Portsmouth News today. Take this link to read the article.

For the latest response from Havant Borough Council, take a look at the online petition which can be found here.

Havant Park – Children’s play area

The Civic Society is concerned about the length of time it is taking to sort out the issues caused by tree roots in the play area in Havant Park.  It is now likely that the play area will now have to be relocated.D7C_7543

Part of the play area is now closed off and will not be available for the school holidays.  There is no information available from the council giving an update on likely completion date for the works or advising the location of alternative play facilities.

We have been in touch with local ward Councillors and await further information.

The story behind the ‘new’ HCS logo

A few years ago, there was much soul searching among the committee members in our search for a new logo. The public were consulted, external branding expertise was sought and three designs were shortlisted for consideration. For some reason, lost in the mists of time, the one selected at an AGM never made it into production and a fourth option came into being:

Wonky heart

This one, the ‘Wonky Heart’, never made it to the website but did become immortalised on the Society’s Facebook page as follows:

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A few years later, while putting together a simple newsletter to be printed in black and white, the membership secretary decided to put a simple illustration together for the heading of the newsletter.  The image, originally a photograph of the familiar town centre site of St Faith’s Church, was converted into a ‘pencil drawing’ using an old copy of Paint Shop Pro and the resulting image has stuck for the last few years:

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During the recent rebuild of the website, I started playing with the same photograph of St Faith’s, looking for a different treatment and stumbled upon a fascinating piece of online image processing software, with some entertaining results.

St Faith’s according to Maurits Escher certainly had merit:

Escher

The Wassily Kandinsky version was particularly entertaining and incidentally provided the source of the original background colour to the website. (We’ll change that background colour from time to time, just to keep the site looking fresh.)

Kandinsky

However, when the committee discussed the direction the logo was going in, head ruled heart and the suggestion was made that we try and simplify the original ‘pencil sketch’ and produce something more akin to the stylised ‘HMS Victory’ included in the Portsmouth News masthead.

So, after a few attempts with tracing paper and a felt tipped pen, we’ve arrived at this one:2018-06-15-0002b

It’s a simple device which highlights St Faith’s and the War Memorial at the heart of Havant town centre.  More importantly, it now ties the HCS Facebook page and the HCS website together. Love it or hate it, or somewhere in between, comments would be welcomed!

 

 

June 23rd celebrations in Havant

Saturday June 23rd was a day to remember in Havant, not just for us local residents, but also for two young residents of Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA.  Tom (aged 5) and William (aged 3) landed at Heathrow at 7:00 am with their journalist mum ( a Fairfield School pupil from the era of Mrs. Lawrence) and dad (a journalist and author from New Jersey).

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Granddad had made the early trip up to Heathrow to pick them up and by 11:00 am the entire family were down at ‘The Spring’ watching the Wickham Morris and joining in with the terrific celebrations laid on by the Friends of Havant Cemeteries. After a quick lunch these two young lads were introduced – ‘re-introduced’ as far as mum and granddad were concerned – to the Fairfield School Strawberry Fayre.  A enjoyable afternoon was had by all.

It’s hard to think of a better introduction to England.  A warm ‘thank you’ to both the FoHC and Fairfield School for laying on such great local entertainment for the townsfolk of Havant.

HCS response to recent News coverage

Reading the recent series of town centre articles in the local newspaper was very interesting, but in our opinion, The News had reported preconceived views of ‘no hope’ for Town Centre High Streets. That is unfortunate because there are successful shops and town centres.

In Havant, for instance, Astares menswear in East Street, and Button Up Baby in North Street, both independent retailers that seem to be trading successfully, yet they were not interviewed to see why they do well.  The fact that Mousetrap have relocated from Chichester to Havant also seems to have been ignored.

What was also missing was a response from the local authority. When councils develop well-informed strategic plans for town centres, taking into account economic, environmental and social trends, creating an holistic approach to develop a sustainable town centres for the future, positive results can be achieved.

In Havant’s case, where are the visionaries, either in the executive or elected side of the council, to push this approach forward?

In our opinion, Local Plans are not enough. Town Centres must be prioritised in the same way as Housing, and have on-going policy interventions to stimulate multifaceted developments and action.

A town’s identity is usually based around its town centre. It gives residents their sense of place, their sense of community and hopefully, their sense of pride. It is vital that we all work to achieve a thriving, modern style town centre that will be sustainable and successful.

Colt – ‘We’re backing Britain’, fifty years on

It’s a sad day for those of us who remember New Lane in the heady days of the late sixties.

In 1968, my first real ‘summer holiday’ employer, Kenwood Manufacturing, was supporting Colt in their famous staff initiative.  Boxes of Kenwood Chefs, Kenwood Mini foodmixers and the first ill-fated Kenwood Dishwashers left the plant with ‘I’m Backing Britain’ stickers lovingly applied.

Fred Price had been the mastermind behind Colt’s ‘I’m Backing Britain’ message, and with Kenwood’s staff quickly joining the movement it wasn’t long before New Lane and its predominantly West Leigh workforce were the focus of national news bulletins.  Lying between Kenwood in the south and Colt in the north were Goodman’s Industries, a once respected name in the British HiFi market.

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Fifty years on, none of these companies manufacture in New Lane.  The Goodmans site was razed to the ground some years ago, Kenwoods has long been a warehouse operation for imported Chinese manufacturing while Colt moved their administrative offices up the road to Petersfield and their manufacturing ‘offshore’.

Love it or hate it, the Colt office building at the north end of New Lane was an iconic sixties structure.  Until today, that is.  The photograph below was taken this morning while the New Lane frontage was still there. By this evening, the machinery had moved large chunks of the frontage out, waiting for the concrete crushers that will be running for many weeks to come.

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In its place, another development plan that will continue to have its fair share of public debate.  In years to come, some of us may begin to wonder why we didn’t campaign to get this building listed.

It’s a kind of Tricorn / Marmite thing.

(In fairness, this is a personal view and not necessarily the view of the Havant Civic Society)

 

HCS Response to 40 Acres development plan

While some might consider this application outside of the Havant Civic Society remit, we believe that the application poses important issues to the wider Havant community.   Havant Civic Society supports our Bedhampton peer groups and we’ve now submitted our own response to the application for development on this site.

To read the HCS response, please take this link. The letter will be displayed in a new browser window.

June 23rd – Heritage at your feet

Since 2013 a group of volunteers has been looking after the cemeteries in New Lane, Eastern Road and Warblington. They are now the Friends of Havant Cemeteries (FoHC) and meet on the morning of the last Tuesday of each month to work on clearing and tidying the cemeteries, managing weeds, sowing wild flowers, and they also have an interest in researching some of the graves.

On 23 June 2018 from 10-4 FoHC will be holding an “Open Day” at the Spring and at the cemeteries to celebrate our recent Heritage Lottery Grant award which is being used to install new gates, a bench and information boards.

HoHC